Critical dominoes in math education start falling in 6th and 7th grade with the last ones falling in college. If you have a student who struggles with math and is entering or returning to middle school, now is the time to intervene to avoid more serious issues related to math education in the future. If your student is not going to college or is not accessing the general curriculum, I suggest you read this.)
Below is a chart showing the different categories of Common Core of State Standards (CCSS) math (called domains) at different grade levels. For the majority of students who will attend college, the traditional algebra based sequence (algebra 1, algebra 2, and maybe pre-calculus, calculus) is the path of math courses to be taken. Given this, for students who struggle in math but have a post-secondary education as a goal, the domains I emphasize in middle school are Expressions and Equations, Ratios and Proportional Relationships, and Functions. For high school, I emphasize Algebra and Functions.
Looking at the overviews for CCSS math standards (below) you can see the dominoes line up.
- In 6th grade, Ratios and Proportions are an entry point for Functions in 8th grade which leads to Functions in high school.
- In 6th grade, Expressions and Equations are the entry point for Expressions and Equations in 7th and 8th grade, which lead to Algebra in high school.
If your student is struggling with the middle school topics I cited and the gaps are not filled, the struggle will be carried with them into high school and into college.
I recommend the following:
- Focus IEP math objectives on the priority units of the math curriculum, as cited above.
- Ask for examples of mastery for the objectives to help you evaluate progress and mastery. Have this in place from day 1.
- Focus on study skills, not just content mastery.