Photo of Math Department staff

Math Staff 2018-19

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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, Geo H or Alg 2/Trig H (students who took Geo H 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. The first administration is March 17th, 2020 for incoming freshman. There will be two additional testing dates for all other students - one in May and one in August.  Those dates are TBD.  This site will be updated with that info as it becomes available.   If you need to register your child for a placement test, please go to the “Math Placement Test” section below on this website to register your student(s).

Changing Lanes/Teachers

  • Students are placed in a particular lane based on their performance in the previous course, teacher recommendation and potential summer work. During the first quarter, a student with a B- or below may request a lane change by initiating a conversation with the classroom teacher. Such changes are contingent on class size. It must be approved by the current classroom teacher and the IL. Students carry over their homework grade at the time to the new lane.  <Updated 8/9/19>
  • 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.
  • Please refer to Paly’s course catalog for information on what a typical weekly HW load is for a particular class.

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 PAUSD graduation requirement of Alg 2, 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 IL and the Assistant Principal of Instruction is a requirement.  Courses taken without proper pre-approval will be denied PAUSD credit. Pre-approval forms are available in the Guidance Office.  Courses taken outside the district can only earn regular lane credit.
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PAUSD Secondary Math Flow Chart: Flexible Pathways

Math Pathways Chart

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Paly Math Electives

Math Pathways Chart

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Math Placement Test

(Sign-up form is below information)

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 concerns, we have cancelled the March administration of the placement test. Please continue to check right here for updates. We apologize for this inconvenience but keeping students and families safe must be our top priority. Please email Paly's math instructional leader, Scott Friedland: sfriedland at pausd.org with questions. Thanks!

Do not sign up unless you have already received an email with an assignment to Palo Alto High School.

Incoming 9th graders from within PAUSD 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 have completed a Pre-Algebra course in 8th grade will take an Algebra Readiness test for placement into either Algebra 1 or Algebra 1 Advanced. The test covers topics typically taught in Pre-Algebra.

•  Students who have completed a formal Algebra course in 8th grade will take a Geometry Readiness test for placement into either Geometry Advanced or Geometry Honors. This test covers all of the topics taught in Algebra I necessary to be successful in Geo A or Geo H.

•  Students who have completed a formal Geometry course in 8th grade will take a Readiness test for placement into either Alg 2/Trig H or Geometry Honors.  This test covers topics taught in our Geometry Honors course. 

•  Students who have completed formal courses in both Algebra 1 and Geometry and are presently enrolled in an advanced Algebra 2 course will take a Readiness test that will place them either into Alg 2/Trig H or Analysis H.   

Note:  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 may need to solidify their mathematical foundation.  Thus, a student who has completed Algebra in 8th grade may still be placed into an Alg 1 (or Alg 1A) class as a freshman.  (This is similarly true for individuals who took Geometry in 8th grade.) 

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

•  Students who have completed a formal Algebra 1 class before enrolling at Paly will take a Geometry Readiness test for placement in one of our Geometry classes for sophomores: Geometry A or Geometry. This test covers all of the topics taught in Algebra I necessary to be successful in Geometry.  

•  Students who have completed formal courses in Algebra I and Geometry (or have completed 2 years of an integrated Algebra/Geometry curriculum) will 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 as well as Conic Sections and Trigonometry.  

•  Students who have completed formal courses in Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II, will take a placement test for one of our three PreCalculus courses: PreCalculus, Intro to Analysis & Calculus, or Analysis H. This test covers curriculum taught in our various Algebra 2 courses.

•  Students who have completed formal courses in Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, and Pre-Calculus will take a placement test for one of our Calculus courses: Calculus, AP Calculus AB, or AP Calculus BC. This test covers curriculum taught in our various PreCalculus 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 with a “D” likely needs to solidify their foundation in the subject.  They may take a Geometry Readiness test and be placed in one of our Geometry courses at Paly.  Students who have formally completed all required prerequisite 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 Algebra 2 Readiness assessment will be placed into either Geo A or Geo H. 


Additional Placement Test Info:

•  All placement tests are solely multiple choice.  We provide scratch paper.  They are all designed to be done without a calculator.  No special preparation is needed for the test.

     ⁃  The Algebra Readiness test takes 60 minutes.

     ⁃  The Geometry Readiness test takes 75 minutes.

     ⁃  All other Readiness tests take 90 minutes.