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Math Placement Policy for Middle School and High School

Updated 08/01/2019

Rationale and Education Code Requirements:

“Pupil achievement in mathematics is important to prepare pupils for college and their future careers, especially those careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Placement in appropriate mathematics courses is critically important for a pupil during his or her middle and high school years. A pupil’s 9th grade math course placement is a crucial crossroads for his or her future educational success. Misplacement in the sequence of mathematics courses creates a number of barriers and results in pupils being less competitive for college admissions, including admissions at the California State University and University of California.” Mathematics Placement Act of 2015 (SB359)


The California Mathematics Placement Act of 2015 requires the governing boards or bodies of local educational agencies (LEAs) that serve pupils entering grade nine and that have not already done so to adopt a “fair, objective, and transparent mathematics placement policy” before the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year. The mathematics placement policy for pupils entering grade nine must meet the following requirements:

  • Systematically takes multiple objective measures of pupil performance into consideration;
  • Includes at least one checkpoint within the first month of the school year to ensure accurate placement and to permit reevaluation of individual student progress;
  • Requires an annual examination of pupil placement data to ensure that students are not held back in a disproportionate manner on the basis of their race, ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic background;
  • Requires a report on the results of the annual examination by the local educational agency to its governing board or body
  • Offers clear and timely recourse for each pupil and his or her parent or legal guardian who questions the student’s placement.

Furthermore, Assembly Bill 220 states “... before a pupil receives a diploma of graduation from high school, that a pupil complete at least one course, or a combination of the 2 courses required for graduation, that meets or exceeds the rigor of Algebra I or Mathematics I, that is aligned to the content standards adopted by the state board. The bill would provide that a pupil who completes coursework that meets or exceeds the content standards for Algebra I adopted by the state board shall be deemed to have satisfied the graduation requirement. The bill would also exempt from the Algebra I or Mathematics I graduation requirement those pupils who, before enrollment in grade 9, completed a course in Algebra I or Mathematics I, or mathematics courses of equal rigor, that are aligned to the content standards adopted by the state board.” (AB220)


Algebra skills are not only a high school graduation requirement, but also are key to the higher math courses.  Therefore, it is important for students to demonstrate proficiency in Algebra if the course is taken early (before high school). Also, students earning graduation credit for the course must meet or exceed the standards as indicated above.  See Algebra Graduation Requirement Policy.


Additionally, AB 705 is a bill signed by the Governor on October 13, 2017 that took effect on January 1, 2018. The bill requires that a community college district or college maximize the probability that a student will enter and complete transfer-level coursework in English and math within a one year timeframe and use, in the placement of students into English and math courses, one or more of the following: high school coursework, high school grades, and high school grade point average.  Since fewer remedial courses are being offered at the college level, it is even more important that students graduate with proficiency in these courses.


Middle School and High School Mathematics Course Sequences

Beginning in middle school, students will tend to follow different pathways in their math education, where advanced students may still complete Algebra 1 in middle school, setting them on a path to complete Calculus in high school.  The following are just a few of the acceptable course sequence scenarios for middle school and high school math.

Grade-Level Coursework:

Middle School:  Math 7, Math 8

High School (2 main pathways):

  • Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, Pre-Calculus
  • Integrated Math 1, Integrated Math 2, Integrated Math 3, PreCalculus

Advanced Coursework: 

Middle School:  Math 8, Algebra 1 or Integrated Math 1

High School (2 main pathways):

  • a-g Geometry, a-g Algebra 2, a-g Pre-Calculus, a-g Calculus
  • a-g Integrated Math 2, a-g Integrated Math 3, a-g PreCalculus, a-g Calculus

Middle School Math Placement Policy

Advanced Coursework:

  • Students need to demonstrate readiness before embarking on, or continuing on, an advanced pathway in grades 7 and 8
  • Students who begin Algebra 1 before 9th grade must earn a minimum score 80% on the High School Readiness Test, and earn a minimum score of 80% on the Geometry Readiness test (or other CWCS-approved Algebra proficiency exam) upon completion of Algebra 1
  • Math Readiness tests are available, but optional, for Math 7 and Math 8, for students who wish to advance early to these courses

Grade-Level Coursework:

  • No specific requirements need to be met for students to take grade-level courses in grades 7 or 8
  • 7th grade students take Math 7
  • 8th grade students take Math 8
  • Math Readiness tests are available, but optional, to help determine if students are ready for these courses

Below Grade-Level Coursework:

  • Students taking courses below grade level should work with the RTI program to find a suitable Tier 3 intensive program (this applies to all grades 2-8) and work toward achieving grade-level standards
  • Intensive intervention is key to ensuring that students will be prepared for high school mathematics

High School Math Placement Policy

Placement of 9th grade students

Students entering grade 9 will be recommended a course by CWCS Administration based on some or all of the following measures: grade 8 course and student achievement in that course, 8th grade CAASPP math score, MDTP (Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project) readiness test results, AIMSweb checks, Scantron scores, other local assessments and ES recommendation.

Criteria for recommending Grade-level Coursework in Grade 9:  Algebra 1

  1. Student achieves one or more of the following:
  • Completion of a standards-aligned 8th grade course (grade of C or better--if available; grade 8 report cards are strongly recommended)
    • State-adopted curriculum
  • Non-adopted curriculum, supplemented with completion of 8th grade I CANS
  • Non-adopted curriculum, supplemented with completion of Concepts and Skills 8th grade standards review (Common Core Coach or On Core)
  • Non-adopted curriculum, but Math 8 textbook program with a published scope and sequence alignment to California Common Core Standards
  • 8th grade CAASPP score
    • Score of 3 or 4
  • MDTP--student scores a minimum of 60% on the MDTP High School Readiness Test

            (Given in the spring to 8th grade students)

     2) Other measures may be taken into consideration (used by Administration for borderline situations):

  • AIMSweb checks
    • Student scored 12 or higher on spring grade 8 MCAP
  • Scantron scores
  • NWEA scores

Criteria for recommending Below Grade-level Coursework: 9th Grade (Pre-Algebra or Math Basics):

  • Students who do not meet the above criteria for placement in Algebra 1

Criteria for Recommending Advanced Coursework: 9th grade course higher than Algebra 1

Student meets the following requirements:

  • Student has completed an Algebra 1 course that meets or exceeds the standards. See Algebra Graduation Requirement Policy.
  • MDTP--student scores a minimum score of 80% on the Geometry Readiness test for students completing Algebra 1 in middle school (See Middle School Math Placement Policy above)

Beginning of the School Year Checkpoint/Parent Notification and Opportunity for Recourse

  • Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project (MDTP) Readiness test will be given to all 9th grade students who did not test in the spring
  • For advanced 9th grade students taking a course higher than Algebra 1, a records-check will be done to ensure proper placement in advanced coursework; student who have not taken the appropriate readiness tests will take one within the first month of school
  • Administration will send a recommendation to the ESs of 9th grade students, and the ESs will review the placement recommendation with parents during the first learning record meeting. Parents complete the survey acknowledging agreement with the placement.
  • Parents may challenge the school’s recommendation by completing a Math Placement Waiver form at the end of the survey. Please be aware that students under the typical high school age will only be awarded high school credit if they have met the criteria as stated on the School Age Policy.
  • Ess will complete Students Completing Algebra 1 in Middle School Survey

For higher level math courses please do not complete this survey; use the "Courses taken by Students Under Typical HS Age Survey" instead.

  • Students who are misplaced will be reassigned in the appropriate course


Reporting of Data

  • CWCS Administration will annually disaggregate the data regarding 9th grade students’ math placement
  • Data will be disaggregated according to race, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic background
  • An annual report will be presented to the CWCS Board