#### Mom of 8ths grader seeking advice about honors geometry

April 2014

*This query is a bit late since it will go out after the 8th graders test for Honors Geometry, but maybe it will help us decide what to do if our son gets in. All the reviews for Honors Geometry at Berkeley High are at least 4 years old. Can someone give me some recent feedback? My son has always found math easy and the courses to be too slow, but he is not self-motivated (Ok, he is not motivated at all). He responds well to teachers that he likes regardless of the subject. If the Honors math at Berkeley High is geared for self-starters and uber-academics, I would steer him away. If it is an engaging, faster paced math class filled with students who also like and do well at math, then it would be for him. Math Mom *

About Honors Geometry at BHS, here's our experience. My daughter is finishing 9th grade at BHS, having come from King. While finding classroom math easy so far, she is not uber-academic, nor is she self-motivated. She does like to be around the smarter, more engaged students. Even though she always got highest marks, and very high STAR results, she did not score well enough on the special assessment to automatically get into Honors Geometry. However, both she and her 8th grade teacher pushed administration and landed a spot in Mr. Palin's Honors Geometry class. Just in case the material would become too difficult, we took a proactive strategy to set up one hour of tutoring per week after school. This works well. Mr. Palin has a unique teaching style that my daughter had never encountered before. Mr Palin does not teach to the book, but assigned homework from it. Mr. Palin prefers to teach problem solving in a more theoretical way. The tutor answers questions about the book and homework when my daughter couldn't figure it out on her own. Palin's tests sound like they are a combination of his theoretical teaching and elements from the book. It appears that a student rarely feels they do well on the tests. Nevertheless, my daughter is keeping an A grade, growing in her confidence with math, enjoys it as a subject, is learning to become more self-taught and self-motivated, appreciates (although doesn't quite understand) Mr. Palin's approach, and has peace of mind because she can rely upon the tutor's support. Without resistance, she expects to continue on the Honors math track at BIHS. While we pay, there is easy access to free tutoring at BHS. Encouraging girls who do math

#### How to help my child succeed in honors geometry?

Nov 2008

*I've read previous posts about honors geo at BHS but I'm looking for another level of detail. Given a teacher who is famous for putting questions on tests that are harder than those in the homework and book, and who is known to be rigid, how can I help my child succeed? My child is smart, good in math, doing the homework and doing miserably on the tests. He has a tutor. We're not after the A, we're just after avoiding this overwhelmingly frustrating experience which leads to discouragement and will turn him off from future honors classes. Where can we find some harder questions that he can use to prepare for the tests? Are there other approaches? Any other advice that has helped kids in honors geo with this teacher? We believe this teacher's punitive approach is unnecessary and that high standards can be had without this cost -educators should assure that hard work in a hard class results in success. anon *

We pulled our freshman son out of the honors geometry class after about a month. Our son also had tutoring (Harvey Garn), but it wasn't enough. After witnessing his difficulty with the material and getting a sense for how unhelpful the teacher was, it seemed senseless to continue. We hear that there are three teachers this year, only one of whom is really making the material work for her class.

The geometry curriculum looks irrelevant to the later ''useful'' math - algebra, trig, calculus, statistics. It seems like a tradition, and directed more at teaching ''how math is done by mathematicians'' (axioms, proofs) than at how math can serve other pursuits. So we decided to go with a less challenging class now and try again next year. Anon

This is a very timely message! My daughter just got a D on her first honors geometry test at Palo Alto High and she's really upset. Like your kid, she's smart and studies very hard, but the test included many questions that weren't in the homework or on the review sheets. She feels angry about the ''ambush'' but has also lost a lot of confidence in her math ability. She's already talking about dropping the honors class in order to avoid a bad final grade. I try to reassure her that grades don't matter at this level and it's more important to learn the material, but she just gives me that deadly teenage ''You just don't understand'' glare. Given this hypercompetitive college entrance environment that I never had to face, I'm inclined to agree with her. I also agree with you that this type of teaching seems to reward only the very few who are truly gifted in math while frustrating and turning off a lot of smart kids who could benefit from a system that was rigorous but not ''tricky''. I'll also add that it's a shock to see that her textbook is 21 years old. It's truly shameful how we've underfunded public education in this country. Anon

#### I've heard the teacher is excessively hard

June 2004

*My son and I are torn about whether he should take Honors Geometry as an incoming 9th grader at Berkeley High this fall. He has passed the test for it. I've been told that the test is very difficult to pass and that he should take Honors in order to be challenged by geometry. The problem is that every one he knows who has taken it has had Mr. Henri, who has a reputation for being excessively and ridiculously hard. The only students who get to take the other, more reasonable, teacher are the accelerated 8th graders who come in from middle school and take it 0 period. We hear stories of kids studying for hours every day only to barely pass and then getting turned off to math and not taking any other honors or AP math classes in high school. One person we know who is now a senior in college, majoring in astrophysics and taking lots of hard math classes, barely got a C in Mr. Henri's class after lots of hard work and is one of the ones who never took other honors math classes at BHS because of that experience. *

*My question: is this the norm? Are there lots of other kids out there who took this class and enjoyed it and/or managed to cope without an inordinate struggle ending with a negative outcome? Do people feel that on balance it was worth taking it, or is it better to take regular geometry and then test for later Honors/AP classes? Right now, my son doesn't know any one who has signed up for this class -- for the reasons outlined above. Thanks for any advice--we'd particularly like to hear from any one who had a positive experience. *

My son just completed his freshman year having taken honors goemetry with Mr. Henri. First let me preface by saying that my son is a very good math student , somewhere between better than average and the ''elite'' level. My intuition is that Mr. Henri pushes bright kids, walking a fine line between challenge and frustration. I have met and spoken to parents of kids that felt both appreciative and traumatized. The main advice I can give is to keep the communication lines open between you and your son which is no small task given the anxieties inherent in this class with this particular teacher. Fortunately, I don't believe my son was permanently traumatized by his experience though he sweated to get a C. As a previously straight A student, the experience gave him pause to realize that there are some classes that he will have to work much harder than average in, even asking for help which he has been loathe to do in the past.I put this definfitely in the positive column. We (my husband is a public school teacher) believe that students can be challenged without alienating them. But my son was pragmatic enough to understand that his struggle, though a combination of shock AND enlightenment, was a wake- up call. He has enrolled in honors algebra 2 which even Mr. Henri professes to being a bit less challenging than honors geometry. I've been told that honors geometry (with Mr. Henri in particular) is the hardest class that some of these students will ever take at BHS. Overall I am glad that the experience occurred in 9th grade and not later. Hopefully, what he takes away from all of this is that his coasting for A's days are over. We feel it was worth it Relax and enjoy your summer and most importantly try not to telegraph your anxieties to your child. Please feel free to e-mail me. Good Luck! Heather

I'm so glad you raised this issue as I having been wanting to discuss this for some time. My son did well in his Honors Algebra class at Willard and readily passed the test to get in H. Geom. at BHS, although he could have done it based on his grade in H. Algebra alone. This is a kid who really liked math. Unfortunately, after 9 months with Mr. Henri, he no longer likes it, barely squeaked by with a C, and will probably never take another honors math class at BHS. We saw in the first week that it wasn't going to work for him (Mr. Henri is as you describe), but try as I might I could not get him out of the class. I was on the point of recommending that the form they have parents sign to request the class be signed in blood, just to give people the idea of the permanence of the thing. Oddly, I met a woman in the spring who's daughter had had a similarly negative experience at first, but they were able to get her out with no problem. I guess they knew the right people to talk to about this. And I'm afraid I can't help feeling bitterly resentful about this. I would strongly advise against your son taking this class if you have any doubts at all. The students that I know of who did well all seem to have used a certain tutor who used to teach the class himself and who knew what (perhaps exactly) was going to be on the tests. Hopefully you will get some positive responses to your query to counterbalance this negative one. Good luck on making your decision. Dianna

My son, who just finished his junior year, did have a positive experience in Mr. Henri's geometry class. He received A's and has proceeded through the Honors and AP Math offerings at BHS. He enjoyed Mr Henri and they had a good rapport.

Geometry is challenging to many students because it introduces math concepts they have never seen before. Ultimately, I think the answer to your question lies in your assessment of your child:

-How will he respond to the new environment at BHS? If you expect the transition to be difficult, will the added challenge of Honors Geometry be too much?

-Is he self-motivated and does he rise to a challenge? I think these qualities are important for a freshman to succeed in this class.

-Will he be willing to seek extra help outside the classroom? There are plenty of tutoring options available at BHS.

-Some students start the class, then later elect to transfer down to regular Geometry. This can be a hassle, but if he is willing to consider this option, it is there.

And a general observation --We have found the BHS experience to be positive and dynamic. It teaches the students lots more than academics - including how to rise to challenges of all kinds. Your child can fly at BHS if you let him! 12th grade parent

I think if your son enjoys math and wants to take a challenging class he should not hesitate to take Mr.Henri's honors geometry class. He will need to work hard and may not get an ''A''. My daughter (just graduated BHS) took Mr. Henri's class in the 9th grade. She's a solid math student,but no future math major. She worked hard and did fine. I was told by a recent Stanford graduate (engineering major) that he learned more in Mr. Henri's honors geometry class than any other class he took at BHS. I suspect that some of the grousing you may hear about Mr.Henri has to do with his tough grading. My experience with many students/families in the academic ''fast track'' at BHS is they expect teachers to give their students ''A'' grades. When they don't.....they end up running the teacher into the ground. Your son will learn a great deal and need to work hard, but he may not get an ''A''. You need to decide what's more important.....an easy ''A'' or a challenging class. Lori

hi -- my son had Mr. Henri two years ago for honors geometry. At first, he did find the class very hard. however, he wound up learning an enormous amount, really enjoying the class (in which he had many friends), and really liking and appreciating Mr. Henri. so there are definitely very positive honors geometry stories out here. best wishes to your son in his decision. anonymous, to respect my son's privacy

My son was one of those who did miserably in Honors Geometry with Mr. Henri. Mr. Henri announces on Back to School Night, that his class is ''the hardest'' class at BHS. I have never gotten an explanation from Mr. Henri or the math department as to why this is beneficial to kids, but what my son relayed to me, is that homework is assigned before the material is covered in class. So, it seems that honors geometry is for students who can learn the material on their own by reading the book. If you have a student who needs help in learning it, then you're out of luck. And since I have a kid who is turned off by teachers who he feels is not interested in helping students learn, my kid basically turned off to math. A truly lousy experience. Yolanda

My son had Mr. Henri for Honors Geometry as a Freshman. He worked pretty hard, but not excessively so (an hour or so of math regularly and more time right before a test) and got a B. The expectations regarding homework and testing are very clear and Mr. Henri makes himself available for tutoring and extra help. I asked my son and another boy who had Mr. Henri a few years previous to my son what they thought of him compared to other honors track math teachers and heard ''hard, but fair'', ''he's a good teacher - he really teaches you stuff'', ''It's challenging but certainly not impossible to get a good grade.'', ''any honors class is going to be hard and Henri's class is not a huge amount harder than any other honors class''. Both of these boys went on to other honors math classes and did fine. Nicki

my daughter had mr.henri last year. she is a great math student although not one who wants to do alot of homework. she complained about the challenging work expected by mr.henri however thought the class was great and that she was very stimulated. she has just completed her sophomore year where the math was mediocre.she looks back on mr. henri's class as one of the best math courses she ever took. its very hard to find truly challenging coursework at BHS especially in the first two years. I would recommend that your son take the class. her friends who didn't test into the class and took nonhonors math were very bored. Diane

I asked my son to write a response to this post--it follows below. From my perspective (as one of the two parents helping with homework) it was stimulating, and yes, something of a burden, to relearn all the geometry I had learned in high school in order to give support to my very smart, good in math, somewhat spacey son. My partner and I were called on throughout the year to help with the most challenging problems. I don't have a sense how kids succeed in this class without some of that help, though it's my understanding that Mr. Henri does make himself available ouside of class. Along with the homework help, we also had to help buttress his self esteem when he got Ds on tests (Cs and Ds were the norm; he only occasionally got better). There's no question it's a very demanding class, with very specifically high performance standards. But he's a GREAT teacher, and my son was very glad to be in his class.

From my son: I was a student in Mr. Henri's honors geometry class just this last year, the 03-04 school year. Although his class was extreamly challenging I loved it all the same. He is one of the most passionate teachers I have ever had. I think what makes his class seem so hard is that he weighs his tests heavily and the homework not as heavily. The work load in his class was big. If you can stay on top of things, you can do fine in his class. I had the most trouble with his tests. Even to get into the class I had to rely on a teacher recomendation because I was in the grey area for the test. But if your son passed the test to get in fairly easily I think he would do fine in Mr. Henri's class. Even though at the end of the year I came out with a C his class was still a positive experiance for me. And if you can get through that class the rest of high school won't seem so hard.

sign me: glad we went through it and glad it's done!

Honors Geometry is very challenging; the tests are probably over the top for this age group. That said, it was a terrific experience for my daughter who passed with flying colors and continues to take the honors math classes at BHS. (Which, BTW, are not as challenging). Kids need to be challenged! In Mr. Henri's defence, athough he enjoys creating these fiendinsh tests, he offers extra credit to help bring up grades and is always available to help kids. Howerver, your kid has to want to take advantage of these offers! My daughter and her friends pretty much camped out in his room at lunch to get extra help - and a lovely safe place for lunch it was. no regrets

Both of my sons had Mr. Henri for honors geometry and although they did work hard, they both managed A's and thought he was a terrific teacher (not the most popular opinion of him!)

Our daughter's experience last year in Mr. Henri's Honors Geometry class was not as grueling or gruesome as suggested by the parent who queried. It WAS among the few challenging 9th grade courses she took -- important because the 9th grade year can be rather pedestrian. Homework did not seem excessive or unreasonable -- particularly for a well- prepared new 9th grader. Yes, Mr. Henri was no pushover, and if you're looking for something easy, this is not the right class. He did have high standards, which was nice to see, and students had to earn their grades. But we thought that was rather refreshing during the otherwise less-than-rigorous 9th grade year.

Only your son (and you) can decide whether he is well prepared enough -- and motivated enough -- to do well and enjoy this class. But, for our daughter, the experience was completely worthwhile (and she earned an A).

#### Is My Kid Ready for BHS Geometry?

Aug 2003

Re: Geometry at BHS

If your entering 9th grader is thinking about Honors Geometry, please note that the honors programs is not intended to be user friendly. My soon to get sophmore, who is a decent student, had Mr.Henri last year and hated math. Apparently, Mr. Henri hands out the homework assignments first, and then reviews the material.... My child who gets top grades in math, just plainly states that the math teachers at BHS aren't interested in teaching. anonymous

I feel compelled to respond to the anonymous parent who quoted her son as saying that Berkeley High math teachers aren't interested in teaching. That is so far from my son's experience with the BHS teachers that I don't know how we could be talking about the same school.

My son's teachers (OK, he's never experienced the infamous Mr. Henri) have all offered tutoring during their own lunch hour for any students who need it, have responded to my questions promptly, and have always issued regular updates of student progress. Our family feels that the math teachers at Berkeley High have offered much more than one would expect, both in their classroom explanations and in extra help offered, despite the frequently difficult situations they experience such as angry parents, disaffected students, and an unsupportive administration. Just another view. Maureen

I mentioned some of the recent discussion about Honors Geometry at BHS --and in particular-- some comments about Mr. Henri with my rising 10th grader. My child, who had him last year, shared these comments and said I could share them with PoT:

''Mr Henri is a very nice person who has a love for math and really enjoys teaching it. The thing that makes many students struggle in his class and dislike him is his incredibly hard tests. I don't think Mr. Henri thought they were hard -- rather he choose what he thought were good questions that were based on problems from previous quizes or homework problems. For me , personally, it was sometimes hard to see the connections between the tests questions and class work.Parts of the homework were challenging -- but that is the book they used. Mr Henri always reviewed a new concept before assigning homework and then the next day reviewed the difficult problems so that student scould understand them.

Key to success in Mr. Henri's class was asking for help. He was there every lunch time --all you had to do was ask for help and he would gladly help.''

My student earned a B in the course, didn't particularly like the subject of Geometry and is looking forward to being in Honors Algebra II next year. Parent of a BHS student

This is about the Honors Geometry class at BHS that was mentioned in the last newsletter. The Honors vs regular geometry was a big issue for me when my child enterd BHS last year because of its reputation for being such a difficult class. It was, but students willing to do the work did well, and it was a bit of a badge of honor for very dedicated students to pass. However, it was no more difficult than the geometry class I took in nith grade over thirty years ago (how do I know? Same book!) and the instruction was excellent, but the pace was brutal. All three teachers - my kid had all three, due to reassignments throughout the school year (this point I must complain about) offered lots of direct instruction, making optimal use of class time (no videos and mercifully little sub time, other BHS teachers take note!) and all were available during lunch for help. Lots of kids took advantage of this and spent lunch catching up. And according to the kids, even though they were tough teachers, they were nice and approachable. What more can you ask? Berkely parents want challenging courses, and when they get it....Anyway, I felt bad about Mr. Henri getting slammed in that last post. Yes, the tests could have been less gruelling, but the kids really learned good mathmatics and problem solving skills, and everyone says that Honors Algebra will be a breeze after Geometry! The other thing I've heard from parents is that the regular geometry class is too easy...something the BHS math department might like to look at. BTW, thanks to Ms. Cheung and Bodenhausen for their responses...it's good to see that administrators ARE respnsive. Honors survivor

My daughter,who is now a senior, took Honors Geometry from Mr. Henri as a freshman. It's true that it is a very difficult class and Mr. Henri boasts about how hard it is. This can be confidence destroying. On the other hand, my daughter used to eat lunch with other kids in Mr.Henri's classroom and ask him questions. When she got a bad teacher the next year for Algebra II she continued to go back to Mr. Henri to ask math questions! Like anything at Berkeley High you have to make it happen. Joan

I sympathize with the parent whose son had a miserable time in Honors Geometry, but it is possible that with another teacher, he may have flourished. My son had Gen Kogure for Honors Geometry, and it was a great experience. Mr. Kogure really does know how to teach which is a good thing, because not only is Honors Geometry hard, it is at 7:30 am. I hope this year's math teacher is as motivating and supportive as Mr.Kogure; otherwise, I am not sure how my son will do, and after such a positive beginning, it would be a shame for him to lose his momentum. anonymous

I had intended to reply last week to the post of the mother whose son had an bad experience in BHS Honors Geometry, by relating my daughter's positive experience with the same teacher. I didn't get around to it, but was glad others posted similar replies. These shouldn't be taken as discounting or invalidating the first student's unhappy experience.

I seems to me that when there is an unsucessful educational experience, people too often assume it must be due to a ''bad'' teacher or a ''bad'' student. I believe it is more often just a bad match of teaching style and learning style.

I also wanted to respond to the poster's description of BHS and BUSD as ''not child centered'' and ''not user friendly''. That is lumping a lot of people into one category. As an active parent in Berkeley schools, I have met many teachers and administrators who are passionately devoted to the success of individual students. I do think that recent BHS administrations, in their efforts to counteract many valid criticisms of disorganization and dysfunction, created the perception that efficiency, not the welfare of the individual student, was their highest priority. But let's not forget there is a new administration at BHS. New principal Jim Slemp has told parents that students and success for every student are his highest priority. Let's give him--and other staff members--a chance. I hate to sound like Pollyanna, but I see nothing to be gained by adopting a negative attitude about our children's school. anonymous

#### Should I sign my 8th grader up for honors geometry?

March 2002

*Currently 8th graders in Berkeley are registering for 9th grade at BHS. 9th graders don't have many choices but one of them (assuming they have taken Honors Algebra in middle school with an A or place into the course by test to be given in April) is whether to take Honors Geometry. We parents have been advised not to "push our students" in to Honors Geometry. We have also been told that if our student enrolls in Honors Geometry and it isn't right for them they WILL NOT have the option to transfer out. I would be interested to hear from BHS families who students did or did not Honors Geometry --- and how you feel about that decision now. Thank you, Kathryn *

My son attended a private school through 8th grade and tested into Honors Geometry. He is in Mr. Henri's class and has found the class to be interesting and challenging. He particularly liked making a replica of a household object that is smaller or larger than the original object. The class uses an old textbook, but how much does geometry change over time? They are also studying trigonometry.--Joan S.

My daughter took Honors Geometry 3 years ago. There was a serious problem with her teacher, and we had heard some rather bad things about one of the other two teachers. At that time, the only way out was for her to switch to regular Geometry, which she did. If that has changed, (i,e, if students are not allowed to switch out of Honors into regular Geometry), I would be very careful about taking Honors. Only take it if you really expect to love math or science and want to go headlong into it. In addition, there are things I would be happy to discuss with you about the Honors Geometry teachers. M.S.S.

#### Why are 8th graders being discouraged from signing up for honors geometry?

April 2001

*There seems to be a concerted effort to discourage 8th graders in honors algebra classes from signing up for 9th grade honors geometry. What's up with this? I'd be interested in hearing experiences with 9th grade honors geometry? Thanks Dan *

There IS an effort to keep students and families from thinking that they HAVE to sign up for Honors Geometry. MANY parents have phoned or written me about their concerns with the pressure middle school students feel they are under to take the Honors Geometry. There are misconceptions that a) it is better to get a "C" in Honors than an "A" in regular, b) that you can't go to Honors Algebra II, A.P. Calculus, or A.P. Science if you haven't taken Honors Geometry, c) that there is an extra point for Honors Geometry, and d) that just because you did well in Honors Algebra, Honors Geometry will be a breeze. Students have been doing pre-Algebra material for several years before they hit Algebra whereas many of the topics in Honors Geometry are completely new.

We encourage you and your child to talk to others who have taken Honors Geometry about the experience. We want students to make an educated choice and realize that it will be a lot of work. If they don't LOVE Math they shouldn't sign up for a course which will require a labor of love! Those who do love Math find the class to be challenging and rewarding, though frustrating at times. But they don't mind the frustration because there is a payoff - the satisfaction of getting the answer, seeing the light, etc. Those who don't love Math see it as a big pain, complain the whole time, don't enjoy the struggle, and sometimes end up demoralized or HATING Math. We would like to avoid this! Weigh the options, talk to friends who have taken the class or have siblings who have, then make an educated decision. Good luck! - Laura Leventer Math Department Chairperson

Re: Honors Geometry at BHS. My son is currently taking that class, though since he only got a B in Honors Algebra at Willard, he had to score well on a placement test. It is by far his most difficult and challenging class, but I think he's finding it worth the effort. His friends who took Honors Algebra and went into regular Geometry are finding it too easy and not challenging at all. The courses are entirely different. The Honors course is similar to the class I took 40 some odd years ago - with lots of proofs and twisting your brain around concepts that are difficult to grasp. The non-Honors is a CPM class and pretty routine (so I hear). I think it is a good idea for freshmen to get the idea of working hard and striving to do difficult work. Most of the other classes taken by Freshmen (unless they take Latin) don't tend to be very burdensome. The current math department chair takes the position that kids should not take highly challenging math classes unless they are prepared to do a lot of work. I think perhaps she goes a little overboard in discouraging kids from taking the class. Liz

The biggest problem with Honors Geometry at BHS is the teachers. In my OPINION, only one of the three teachers who teach Honors Geometry is good. One, which my daughter had, is a very poor teacher and then blames the students when they ask questions to try to understand him. The other, from what I hear from other students and one parent who sat in on the class, is very degrading toward the girls. The problem is that it is impossible to CHOOSE the teacher. I would be happy to discuss this further in private.

The head geometry teacher is one of the most accomplished in his field. I had him many years ago and he was difficult but was very knowledgeable in his field.

The other geometry teacher is a little newer and works with many of the middle school students.

The third geometry teacher seems to be very popular with his students. I hear his room is packed with students during lunch.

I think the real question is whether your child really needs to take honors geometry. I found it to be one of the most challenging classes I have ever taken. It doesn't help your GPA and the amount of work may not be appropriate for your child if they are involved in many activities or challenging classes.

#### Is Honors Geometry worth the extra work?

May 2000

*My son has heard that Honors Geometry at BHS is basically a lot more work for not much different learning over all. Though he qualifies for the honors level of Geometry he is insisting on taking regular Geometry. Any ideas? bg *

My daughter's honors geometry teacher told us at open house that the main difference between regular and honors geometry was proofs. In regular Geometry the formulas are given and the students apply them the equations to get results. In honors geometry students and teachers do the mathematical proofs. In other words, the students discover WHY the formulas and equations work. Math is pretty dry stuff. But there is something appealing about retracing the steps used by Euclid to prove that sides of certain trianges are equal. Just knowing how to do proofs is a valuable tool for learning.

Paul

"regular or honors geometry?"

I would recommend Honors Geometry over regular Geometry anyday. Why?

(1) the students are more ambitious and want to be challenged,

(2) it'll look better on his transcript to college admissions offices to have taken as many AP/Honors courses, especially if he's qualified and makes the grades (you can bet college admissions officers will look carefully at how many AP/Honors courses are taken overall in a student's four years in high school),

(3) slacking is a mistake freshman often make (I've heard kids actually say, "freshman grades don't count for college admissions"--not true), and it's better to learn to work hard now, make the grades now--you can relax and enjoy your senior year more. Remember, your past grades are set in stone during your senior year when you start filing college applications.

Getting on college track is where you want your son to be, and it does begin in the freshman year, not later (as parents, you have to provide advice and guidance so you've got to do your own homework on education and make standards for your child to meet that will provide him or her a way into college and a higher education, if he wants to go there, and what makes parenting a teenager difficult and tough, you can't just be his friend all the time).

Anyway, the Math Dept. has a website worth looking at: http://www.bhs.berkeley.k12.ca.us/departments/math/courses.html (sometimes you can't get through quickly, so you'll have to be patient, probably early morning or late evening is the best time. The home page for BUSD (http://www.berkeley.k12.ca.us/) , and linking from the "site index" to BHS, will also get you in to other departments at BHS. --jahlee

My son felt there was a huge difference between the amount learned in Honors Geometry (which he took) compared to the amount learned in the regular geometry class (which his friend took). In the regular class, they spent so much time reviewing algebra and other math that they didn't even start the geometry curriculum until a few months after the beginning of the school year. Thus they weren't able to cover as much material in the regular class and his friend was very bored by the slow pace. His friend resented being in a class where so little was being covered.

Having taken Honors Geometry also helped my son do well on the SAT I. I would say your son would probably be bored by regular geometry and would miss a lot if he chose that path.