October 1, 2009
Dear Parents:
The purpose of this letter is to acquaint you with the instruments used in math placement from grade eight to grade nine 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:
College Prep: Algebra I
Algebra students demonstrate emerging insights into algebraic thinking but need to deepen their understanding of algebraic concepts and skills. This course takes a traditional approach to algebra at a moderate pace with extensive review. Students in this course may or may not have taken algebra previously and would take any of the geometry classes listed below in their sophomore year.
College Prep III: Algebra 1
This is a year long algebra course for students who have not taken algebra before. Topics are explored in less depth than CP Algebra I due to the slower pace of the class and the additional time for inclass practice and review. Students in this course typically take College Prep II or III Geometry in their sophomore year.
College Prep II: Geometry with Algebra review
Students can follow a model and reach an abstract level of understanding but do not consistently show mathematical insights in problem solving. They learn well from periods of direct instruction in combination with inclass guided practice. Given several models, they are able to select the one which works best for them and master it. This is a fast paced course which teaches paragraph style geometric proof and includes regular review of new material as well as a good deal of algebra review.
College Prep I: Geometry
Students understand and analyze complex situations with guidance. Able to understand and apply general principles of mathematics, they visualize concepts and relationships. They can assimilate and reproduce ideas in variations of problem solving situations already experienced. Given several models, students understand and use several. They recall previous skills and topics. This is a fast paced course which teaches traditional two column proof and expects proficiency with minimal review.
Honors Geometry
Students can understand concepts and relate those concepts to new situations. They have the ability to think abstractly, are creative problem posers and problem solvers, have insights into complex relationships, and see patterns beyond expectations. They execute skills reliably and demonstrate proficiency of previous topics and skills. Students are able to complete tests in the allotted time. The honors course has an accelerated pace with limited review.
We use five formal instruments in determining placement. They are listed in order of importance.
Students curretnly in Guided or Indepenent Algebra take the following:
Orleans Hanna Geometry Prognosis Test: weighted twice
Given in January, the Orleans Hanna Geometry Prognosis Test is a 40 question multiple choice test which assesses geometry readiness. Calculators are not allowed.
Test Average: weighted once
The test averages for each term are considered as well as the overall test average. Calculators are allowed on most tests.
Midyear Exam: weighted once
The midyear exam includes material covered in the first half of the year. It is usually given the week prior to February vacation.
American Mathematics Competition (AMC8): weighted once
This 25 question multiple choice test is given in November during a 40 minute class period. Calculators are allowed. The items cover computation, geometry, interpreting graphs and problem solving.
National Mathematics League Contests (NML): weighted onehalf
The contests require students to apply algebraic concepts which they have learned. Some questions are fairly direct applications while others require some integration of knowledge. The six question contest is given in January. No calculators are allowed.
Students currently in Directed take the following:
Iowa Algebra Prognosis (in place of Geometry Prognosis)
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 January.
Continental Math League (CML in place of NML)
These contests are given monthly from November through February. Each consists of six nonroutine problems which are to be solved in 25 minutes 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.
The chart below provides the benchmarks used to place students in the ninth grade. Since no placement instrument is perfect, there are some overlaps in the ranges to allow teachers some flexibility for individual differences and special circumstances.

CPIII Algebra 
CP
Algebra 
CPII Geometry 
CPI Geometry 
Honors Geometry 
GeometryPrognosis (raw) 

up to 20 
1924 
23 to 30 
30 or above 
Iowa Prognosis (raw) 
up to 35 
32 or above 



Test average (% ) and midyear (guided and independent) 

up to 75 
70 to 85 
80 to 95 
92 or above 
Test average and midyear (%) directed 
up to 82 
75 and above 



AMC8 (raw) 
up to 7 
up to 7 
6 to 11 
10 to 15 
15 or above 
NML (raw) 

up to 2 
2 to 4 
3 to 5 
5 to 6 
CML (%) 
up to 25% 
20% or above 



We hope that having this information in the fall helps parents and students set appropriate goals. To further insure this, we would like to invite all CMS parents to the Math Placement meeting to answer any questions you may have regarding math placement. If possible, forward your questions to either office so that we may best address the needs of the group.
Respectfully,
Meg McCann Lynne Beattie
math dept chair principal 