# BHS math placement question

Hi, I am looking for advice from BHS parents on math placement. We are moving to Berkeley, and my student will transfer to BHS at 10th grade. He is looking to go into AC. The dilemma we are having is regarding his math placement. Per BHS rule, he has to go into Math 2 or advanced math 2. But he is already doing math 2 (covering geometry, some algebra and trig) in his current school and will be doing Math 3 BC next year (10th grade) if he were to stay. I understand that math 2 in different schools may not have the exact same content, but the major portion is similar. He is a very strong math student and is already very bored in his math 2 class. It would make no sense for him to repeat math 2 again next year at BHS. Not only will it look bad on his transcript, but I also worry that he may lose motivation on math completely. Currently BHS seems to be quite firm that no exceptions will be made to allow students at 10th grade to be placed into math 3, but on the course catalog they also say that they will try their best to place students into the level that suits them the best. I am totally confused by these contradictory statements. I am therefore seeking advice from families who have gone through similar issues in recent years as to what we can do to convince BHS to place him into advanced math 3 at 10th grade. We are willing to take the placement test and have BHS math teachers review his current content. Who in the math department at BHS might lend a sympathetic ear to us? Are there anyone who have successfully convince BHS to place your students into an upper level of math recently? What other options do we have? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Worried mom.

## Parent Replies

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Advanced Math at BHS goes through the same curriculum as Math 1, 2 and 3 but at a faster pace. So Advanced Math 1 students (freshmen) work through all of Math 1 and begin working on Math 2 freshman year. Advanced Math 2 students, I believe, would begin work on Math 3 in 10th grade. So I would have your student take the test to get into Advanced Math 2 as it should cover concepts in Math 3 (and maybe Math 4?) in 10th grade. I am the parent of a freshman in Advanced Math 1 so I don't know too much about the curriculum in Advanced Math 2 in 10th grade but you could ask the math department for more clarity.

Your child should take the math placement exam & you should request information about exactly how he does- I think they don’t like to be specific. If he aces the test you should pursue the math coordinator, VP who covers math, and principal until you get what your child needs. You can’t do this in advance. But the squeaky wheel gets the grease at BHS! Good luck!

Put him in Advanced Math 2. I cannot say this strongly enough. He should not (and cannot) take Advanced Math 3 unless he has already taken Advanced Math 2. Advanced Math 2 has more content than regular Math 2 and goes into more depth. It is not said often enough, but Berkeley High is huge and the top 10% of the students are freaking brilliant. Since BHS doesn't let anyone advance past their grade level, the Sophomores in Advanced Math 2 are all exceptionally smart. In addition, the Advanced Math teachers are very difficult graders. The classes can be so difficult that the advanced math track has a huge attrition rate, i.e. super smart hardworking kids dropping down into regular math. If you put him in Advanced Math 2, he will be with some of the brainiest kids in his grade. If you put him in regular Math 3, he will be with mostly Juniors and some Seniors and then he will take Calc AB as a Junior and Calc BC as a Senior. If you put him in Advanced Math 2, he will take Advanced Math 3 as a Junior (which is a very difficult class) and then Calc BC as a Senior. The advanced math track skips Calc AB, so he ends up in the same place as a Senior either way. You should not put him in Advanced Math 3 as a Sophomore because he will be behind. I say this in all earnestness, and anyway, BHS will never allow it so don't waste your time. Worried mom, I get where you're coming from, but as someone who knows I want you to rest assured that his transcript will look great to colleges. They will see that he got through Calculus BC as a Senior, and remember that there are many other advanced classes that he can take throughout high school. BHS is an amazing school and he will be challenged, I promise!

It is very unlikely you are going to get BHS to budge on this. They have their own “special” math curriculum that doesn’t really match up to other more standardized math classes. I guarantee you that what your son is doing this year isn’t the same as Math 2 at BHS, hence they will say he needs Math 2 to be ready for Math 3. Your best bet is to get him into Advanced Math 2 so that he is more challenged. My child is a sophomore at BHS and taking Math 2 this year….. also a very strong math student who refused to take the test to get into Advanced Math (which she maintains she’s glad about because she doesn’t like the sound of what her friends in Advanced Math have to do), and she is pretty unchallenged this year. Sometimes it is ok to have a not-so-hard class though. My child is taking AP Chemistry this year and that’s a lot of math challenge!

I too have been investigating this. From https://bhs.berkeleyschools.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/BHSSchoolProf..., it does not appear that Berkeley High is preparing students to take either the AP Calculus AB or BC exam. (In IB, you can take math HL.) Not to mention that some high school students (including some from pre-2019 classes at Berkeley High) finished AP Calculus BC their junior year, and could take either multivariable calculus or linear algebra at a community college or through the UC Berkeley extension their senior year.

There seem to be other issues with Berkeley High math. (https://www.berkeleyside.com/2018/10/18/opinion-the-math-crisis-at-berke...)

I happened to talk to a mom whose daughter transferred in and was placed lower than what they wanted. They kept pushing and eventually BHS let her take the more advanced math, warning her she wouldn’t do well. She did well. So maybe politely insist, get a meeting, be gracious but firm...

I believe Berkeley High will be very difficult when it comes to placing a student above grade level in math. I was told, they would only advance a student "if he/she compares to Gauss". The vice principal Juan Raygoza is responsible for placements and you can find more information on the Berkeley High School Math Department website.

A good way to gauge how Math 2 at your current school compares to the math sequence at BHS is to find out when your son would take precalculus or calculus at your current school. Advanced Math 3 at BHS is the same as Honors Precalculus before the new Common Core curriculum, and Math 1 and Math 2 cover the old Geometry and Algebra 2 and more, in particular additional topics from Statistics. Advanced Math 1 and 2 cover even more topics.

Thank you to everyone who have replied above. I really appreciate your input and help. Your responses made me feel more relaxed. We will take the placement test and go from there. I have heard a lot about how difficult Advance math 2 and Advance math 3 are and that many kids switched down to regular levels. I just want him to be placed at a level that fits him the best, not too high and not too low. So a placement test would be helpful. At least we will try to put him into Advance math 2.