Math Placement Criteria Grade 7 to Grade 8

The purpose of this page is to acquaint you with the instruments used in math placement from grade seven to grade eight and to provide you with the ranges we use as guidelines. Math placement is not something that happens at the end of the year. Rather, it is an ongoing process with specific milestones throughout the year. The math department also feels it is important to include a general description of a student in each course. These characteristics are:

Directed: Pre-algebra

Students can follow a model given concrete examples and experiences. They demonstrate proficiency with previous topics after considerable review. The course provides explicit instruction in reading the text and in how to use resources. Extensive class time is spent processing homework. The focus is on extensive practice and activities which extend and refine concepts.

Guided: Algebra

Students can follow a model and can reach an abstract level of understanding with guidance. They can assimilate and reproduce ideas in variations of problem solving situations already experienced. Students demonstrate consistent facility with computational skills. The course provides students with background information so that they are able to read the text with understanding. Moderate class time is spent processing homework. Students are regularly asked to apply concepts to new situations. A test/quiz average of 70 or better must be maintained.

Independent: Algebra

Students readily grasp new concepts and relate those concepts to other situations. Possessing excellent computational skills, they have insights into complex relationships and see patterns beyond expectations. They demonstrate enthusiasm for the subject and are comfortable with an increasing level of abstraction and difficulty. Students are regularly asked to read sections of the text to preview the next class. A minimal amount of class time is spent processing homework. Students are often asked to apply concepts to novel situations in both class exercises and in assessments. A test/quiz average of 80 or better must be maintained.

We use five formal instruments in determining placement.

Iowa Algebra Prognosis Test:

The Iowa Algebra Prognosis Test is a 63 question multiple choice test which assesses algebra readiness skills. Calculators are not allowed. The four part test takes about 40 minutes and is given in late March. Weighted once.

Test Average

The test averages for each term are considered as well as the overall test average. Calculators are allowed on most tests. Weighted once.

Midyear Exam

Given in late January or early February, this test covers whatever the student's class has studied in the first semester.  Weighted once.

Problem Solving Assessments

Two assessments are given between the months of November through February. Each consists of eight non-routine problems which are to be solved in a class period without the aid of a calculator, ruler, protractor or graph paper.  Students may use any method they like and are required only to give an answer.  These challenges appeal to students who do the work in their heads and have difficulty explaining their process in writing.  Weighted once.

American Mathematics Competition (AMC8)

This 25 question multiple choice test is given in late November or early December during a 40 minute class period. Directed classes may take it later in the year. Calculators are allowed. The items cover computation, geometry, interpreting graphs and problem solving.  Weighted once.

The chart below provides the benchmarks used to place students in the eighth grade.  In some cases, a student’s level may be changed within their current grade during the school year, according to their current classroom performance. If a student exhibits superior classroom and assessment performance in their current class, it may be possible for them to move to a more rigorous level in that grade. Superior assessment performance will be determined by four successive scores of 95 or above, not including the first two assessments of the year.  In the third term, these scores need to be accompanied by a placement in that more rigorous level for the next year as determined by the year-end placement process using the grid below.  That student would then be allowed to take the unit assessments of the next level, in addition to their own classroom assessment, to determine their readiness. If a student’s assessment average drops below an 80 in the most advanced level, or below a 70 in others, parents / guardians will be notified as to a possible need to move that student to a less rigorous level. 

Instrument Directed Pre-algebra Guided Algebra Independent Algebra
Iowa Prognosis (raw) up to 40 40-55 53 or Above
Problem Solving Assessment (%) up to 30% 30-60% 60% or Above
AMC8 (raw) up to 8 6-14 12 or Above
Test Average & Midyear* Current math placement
If Directed Then up to 95 93 or Above
If Guided Then up to 75 72-95 92 or Above
If Independent Then Up to 88 86 or Above

*Ranges for test average and midyear are based on the student’s current placement.