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Eighth Grade Math: A Challenge, a Party, or Somewhere in Between?

Anna B., Staff Writer

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In eighth grade, students are given a choice between two math courses: College Prep Algebra I and Honors Algebra I. Although both cover the same concepts within algebra, there are a few differences between the two.

“Most of the time, Honors and CP cover the same material. They’ll get to the same place,” said eighth grade Honors and CP math teacher Katie Argall. “Honors will go deeper and cover more, and because we’re covering more material, we have to go faster.”

Both courses are designed to prepare students for Upper School math. “In the math department we’re talking about what will be most applicable to students in high school and what will help them as adults. We’re interested in finding a compromise,” said Mrs. Argall.

“I like the fact that the things we’re learning will be useful in our classes in high school,” said eighth grade Honors Algebra student Grace A.

“It’s nice having more time to work on things,” said CP student Brantley S. “Math can be frustrating for those who are more word-oriented.”

The main difference between CP and Honors is the workload. Since the units are slower, CP students usually only have to do around 12 problems per night.

“The homework isn’t too overwhelming, but most of it tends to be busy work,” said Brantley. “I would want there to be less repetition and more explanation of the concepts.”

Honors students, however, go home with heavy bags and an average of 40 problems a night, according to Honors student Allie B. “But if we don’t know how to do a problem, we get to use a key, which helps me when I don’t understand the material,” she said.

“For CP, we aim for it to be between 10-20 min so they have time to go back and review,” said Mrs. Argall. “For honors, it’s 30 minutes to an hour every night, but some days it’s only about 15 minutes.”

Another difference between the courses is the materials students need for class. While the CP students have a recent textbook and workbook, Honors students purchase an older textbook, which they will also use to do their homework.

“The textbook could be updated,” said Grace. “After all, Mrs. Argall told us that she used the same book when she was learning Algebra 1.”

College prep and Honors assessments are about the same. “I think the tests are way too long, and we don’t do a lot of review on the things that we missed,” said Brantley. “They’re usually just something to be done with the unit.”

CP students normally have around three quizzes per unit with an average of 20 total points. With some quizzes, students are even given second chances to go back and correct their mistakes. Honors quizzes are a little less forgiving, but similar. “At first, the amount of quizzes was a little overwhelming, but once I got used to it, I found that they were helpful for the tests,” said eighth grade Honors student Sarah S.

In conclusion, Honors and CP math are only unalike in pace and depth; it’s not as simple as hard math and “party math.” It ultimately depends on the student and how they learn and adjust to new material.

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Eighth Grade Math: A Challenge, a Party, or Somewhere in Between?