BHS Math Placement Test - How to prepare?

I'm trying to get a sense of how difficult the math placement test is for Berkeley High and whether my child needs to prepare for it ahead of time. My 8th grader is currently at a BUSD middle school and gets consistently high grades in math, and near perfect scores on all state standardized tests and district assessments he has taken. But he is not doing any math outside of the school common core curriculum. Does the math placement test expect that students are already working on math above their current grade level, either outside of school or at a private school? Can a student pass who is just doing math through the public school system? And is there anyway my child can or should prepare for the test? What percentage of kids who take the test pass it? I am having a hard time getting firm answers to these questions from my child's current math teacher. Thank you.

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If your child is doing well in Math at BUSD and gets near perfect test scores, your child will be placed in Advanced Math at BHS. There’s nothing more to prepare, so you (and your child) shouldn’t stress out over it. It’s irrelevant how many people score at a level that places them in Advanced Math. They will create enough class cohorts for the need.

Hi, Anonymous. Historically, some kids study for these tests, and some don't. My about-to-graduate, mathematically-inclined kid, did not. It never occurred to us that she should - because the purpose of the test is to make sure your kid gets into the appropriate math class. I can also tell you anecdotally about all the kids I know who tested into advanced math at BHS under the current course progression, only to drop down a level, because the new math progression is still a work in progress at BHS, and while some teachers are fantastic, and some good or pretty good, some of them have made students' lives a misery. I've also spoken to parents whose kids were on the cusp on the placement test, and who fought to get their kid bumped up a level - only to have their child be miserable.This is in stark contrast with the numbers of parents who tell me about their amazing middle school math teachers (our's were.) So, my personal advice: let your kid take the test and see what happens. Don't sweat this part of the journey. And be prepared with resources such as online classes, afterschool help with teachers, and the like, in case your kid has any struggles.

I have been working in secondary math education in the East Bay for many years and am a local Board Member of the Ca Math Council.  The BHS math placement test is to make sure your child ends up in the most appropriately paced 9th grade math class once at BHS.  There is no real "passing" on the placement test, it is an assessment to see if your child might belong in a more rigorous, faster-paced math class, covering the same material more in-depth.  Your child should do his best work and any extra credit work in his 8th grade math class which covers exactly what BHS is looking to evaluate for 9th grade math placement.  For more detailed information, the curriculum used in BHS math is available at this link:  (Mathematics Vision Project-MVP)

The newer CCSS approach to Math teaching means that most students are studying similar material at each grade level.  However, students who want to excel would do extra credit and try the harder, more in-depth, applied lessons at the end of each module in the EngageNY curriculum.  Also, if your son would like more work, look at extra grade-level material on Khan Academy.  Ultimately, excelling in math means delving deeper into math topics at all levels. What is covered in 8th grade CCSS Math is the basic foundational material for Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Statistics and the first concepts in Calculus and Applied Math in all areas. All Math 1 courses at BHS extend on these topics in more depth.

There is no "passing" or "failing" the placement test.  It is an assessment for the best paced HS Math Class for your son.  In addition, after 9th grade, students are re-assessed once again for 10th grade.

I hope this is helpful


Belinda Lesser, Parent and Math Educator