Photo of Math Department staff

Math Staff 2018-19

+
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.
+
Flow Chart

Diagram of math courses and progression

+
Math Placement Test

(Sign-up form is below information)

Do not sign up unless you already have a pink slip with assignment to Palo Alto High School.

Incoming 9th graders from our district will choose their math class taking into account the recommendation from their 8th grade math teacher.

Incoming 9th graders from outside the district take one of the following placement tests in Mathematics:

  • Students who completed a Pre-Algebra course in 8th grade take an Algebra Readiness test for placement in Algebra 1.1, Algebra 1 or Algebra 1A. The test covers all topics taught in Pre-Algebra.
     
  • Students who completed a formal Algebra course in 8th grade take a Geometry Readiness test for placement in Geometry A or GeoH. This test covers all topics taught in Algebra I.
     
  • Students who completed a formal Geometry course in 8th grade take a Readiness test for placement in Alg2Trig H or GeoH, our 10th, respectively 9th grade honors course. This test covers all the topics taught in our Geometry Honors 9th grade course.
     
  • Students who have completed formal courses in both Algebra 1 and Geometry and are presently enrolled in an advanced Algebra 2 course or above, may take a placement test for our honors 11th or 12th grade courses. This test covers the curriculum taught in our 10th Algebra 2TrigH, respectively 11th grade Analysis H course.

Students who want (or need) to repeat in 9th grade the course they completed in 8th grade can choose to take the corresponding lower level readiness test. For example, a student who took Algebra in 8th grade who wants to solidify his foundation may take an Algebra Readiness test to be placed in an Algebra course at Paly.

Incoming 10-12th graders from outside the district take one of the following placement tests in Mathematics:

  • Students who completed a formal Algebra I class before enrolling at Paly take a Geometry Readiness test for placement in one of our Geometry classes for sophomores: Geometry A or Geometry. This test covers all topics taught in Algebra I.
     
  • Students who have completed formal courses in Algebra I and Geometry (or have completed 2 years of integrated Algebra/Geometry curriculum) take a Readiness test for placement in one of our three Algebra II courses: Algebra 2 Trig H, Algebra 2 Trig A, or Algebra 2. This test covers the Geometry curriculum and an Intro to both Conic Sections and Trigonometry, all topics covered in our Geometry courses.
     
  • Students who have completed formal courses in Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II, take a placement test for one of our three Pre-Calculus courses: Analysis H, Intro to Analysis & Calculus or Pre-Calculus. This test covers the curriculum taught in our Algebra 2 courses.
     
  • Students who have completed formal courses in Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II and Pre-Calculus take a placement test for one of our 2 AP Calculus courses: AP Calculus AB and AP Calculus BC. This test covers the curriculum taught in our Pre-Calculus courses.

Students who want (or need) to repeat the last course they took can choose to take the corresponding lower level readiness test. For example, a student who completed Geometry but wants to solidify his foundation in the subject may take a Geometry Readiness test and be placed in one of our Geometry courses at Paly.

Students who have formally completed all required pre-requisite courses can qualify for math courses beyond their age group if they perform well enough on the placement test to be placed in our Honors lane course. We do not place students ahead unless they have mastered the material covered in the preceding honors level course. For example, a student who has taken Geometry in 8th grade but does not prove competency in all topics covered in our Geometry/Alg2H course will be placed in one of our Geometry 9th grade courses.

The Algebra test is a 60 minute; no-calculator multiple choice test. The Geometry test is a 75 minute no-calculator multiple choice test. All other are 90 minute no-calculator multiple choice tests. No special preparation is needed for the test. The list of textbooks we use in our courses is available on our website.