Math at Paly

Course Sign-Ups

  • It is our goal in the Palo Alto High Mathematics Department to place students in courses that provide the appropriate level of challenge. When placed appropriately, a committed student who puts in the amount of work required should be able to master the content of that course. Due to the sequential nature of the subject, students who have not mastered a particular course have little chance of success in the course that follows in that sequence.
  • For PAUSD students, readiness for a particular course is determined by the present teacher, who knows both the PAUSD curriculum and the student's preparedness level and makes a careful, informed recommendation for placement with the student's best interest in mind. Eighth grade teachers at our middle schools in the district place incoming freshman in one of the following courses: Alg 1.1, Alg 1, Alg 1A, GeomA, Geom/Alg2H or Trig/Anlt H (students who took Geometry/Alg2 in the district in 8th grade).
  • For students transferring into the PAUSD, readiness for one of these courses is determined by the student's score on one or more placement tests. These are administered in May. If transferring in, please go to Math Placement Test to schedule a placement test.

Changing Lanes/Teachers

  • Students are placed in a particular lane based on their performance in the previous course, teacher recommendation and potential summer work. Students earning a C- or below in the class despite putting in their best effort can request a lane change. Such changes are contingent on class size, must be approved by the IS and both teachers, and can only be made before the end of the 1st quarter or at the semester break. Students carry over their grade at the time to the new lane.
  • Due to the cumulative nature of the subject, passing the 1st semester is a pre-requisite for enrollment in the 2nd semester of any math class.
  • We cannot accommodate any change of teacher requests based on preference, teaching or learning style for obvious reasons: with 1800 students in the school, if we would, we'd never be able to set up a feasible schedule.
  • Students can be moved to another teacher for serious disciplinary reasons. Such disciplinary moves must be approved by both teachers and are based on a strict behavior contract enforced by the Dean of Students.

Homework By Course/Lane

  • All math classes assign homework daily.
  • In Regular Level Courses the total weekly average is 2-3 hrs.
  • In A-Lane Courses the total weekly average is 3-5 hrs.
  • In Honors-Lane and AP the total weekly average is 4-6 hrs.

Progression To Next Level

  • To automatically continue to the next level math course, students need a C- or better both semesters.
  • Students earning a D in S1 in the advanced or honors lane must score at least a B- 2nd semester to stay in the same lane the following year. If not, they have the option to repeat the 1st semester the following year and stay in the lane, or drop to the lane below and continue without repeating the D semester.
  • Students earning a D in S1 in the regular lane and at least a C in S2 may be able to continue in that lane the following year with the teacher's recommendation.

Summer School and courses taken outside the district

  • Even the best summer school courses are crash courses that are not comparable in depth or breadth to the course work in our Honors or Advanced lane. Consequently, all summer courses earn just regular lane credit.
  • The typical summer courses offered by PAUSD are Alg.1 and Geometry. If the numbers allow it, both first and second semesters will be offered, in 3-week intensive sessions each.
  • After completing the 2 years of math required for graduation at Paly, students can apply to take courses at accredited institutions for credit (including community colleges like Canada, Foothill, De Anza, if they are 16 or older). Pre-approval from both the Dept IS and the Assistant Principal of Instruction. Pre-approval forms are available in the Guidance Office.  Courses taken outside the district can only earn regular lane credit.