Math Placement Guidelines

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Math Placement Guidelines

The Olympia School District aims for all students to be successful in math.  Our goal is that each child is placed in the math course that is most appropriate for their learning needs as they move through their middle school and high school years. The rigorous Washington State Standards for Mathematics (Common Core State Standards) require students to begin learning Algebra in much earlier grade levels.  Many of the topics that used to be taught in a high school Algebra 1 or Geometry course are now being taught in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades.  The effect of this is that all students are being accelerated in their mathematics learning through middle school.  Recognizing that some students are able to learn more quickly, and that the progression of learning through each grade level is dependent on students having the opportunity to learn and master the standards from previous grades, the Olympia School District has modified courses and placement guidelines for middle school students in the Olympia School District.


Students who demonstrate readiness for early advancement in mathematics may be eligible for placement into an Accelerated Mathematics Pathway.  Indicators of readiness include a high level of conceptual understanding, procedural skill and application of mathematics.   A willingness to engage in problem solving, reasoning, communication, and connections, will also be indicators for students who are ready for early advancement.

Recommendation for placement is based on the following:

  • Spring Measure for Academic Progress (MAP) and Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) scores

  • Standards for Mathematical Practice as indicated by SBA scores and teacher input

  • Prior math course

  • Parental consent


Grade level pathway

Students in the grade level pathway will learn the standards for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade standards while in middle school.  They will take Algebra 1 in 9th grade and have the opportunity to progress through four years of math and be ready for college-level math upon graduation.   Students who need extra support may have the opportunity to enroll in an intervention support class in grades 6 through 9.


6th grade acceleration pathway

Students who qualify for acceleration may choose to enter into the 7-8-Algebra 1 two-year compacted pathway as 6th graders. These students would typically take Geometry in 8th grade and have the opportunity to take multiple AP or IB level math courses in high school.


Accessing 6th grade acceleration

Students who score a 240 or higher on the Spring MAP will qualify for the the Acceleration Screener, the data from the screener will be used alongside Spring SBA data (2610 and Level 3 on claims 2, 3, and 4) to make placement recommendations (Claim data will not be available for the 2021-2022 SBA).  The screener is an assessment of students' mastery of 6th-grade standards and the Standards for Mathematical Practice. If your student is screened and eligible for an accelerated pathway, you will receive notification from the district.
Students in the accelerated pathways must demonstrate success at the end of each school year in order to continue in that pathway. Success can be determined by course success as well as MAP and/or SBA scores. Students who choose an accelerated pathway should be planning to take four years of math in high school, including AP or IB level mathematics. For those who do not choose an accelerated pathway in middle school, there may also be opportunities for acceleration in high school.


7th-8th-Algebra 1 two-year compacted pathway

Students who qualify for a compacted pathway may be placed in an accelerated course in which standards are “compacted,” requiring students to learn at a faster rate.   Typically students will be selected for this course after completion of 6th grade.  Qualification will begin with students who achieve a score of 240 on the spring MAP or 2610 on the SBA.  Students who are placed into the compacted pathway will learn all of the 7th grade, 8th grade, and Algebra 1 standards in two years (typically 7th and 8th grade) instead of three.   These students would typically take Geometry in 9th grade and have the opportunity to take an Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate level math course in high school.

OSD Math Pathway (detailed description)

  • 5th Grade – 5th Grade Math
    • 6th Grade - 6th Grade Math (Possibly with support)
      • 7th Grade - 7th Grade Math (Possibly with support)
        • 8th Grade - 8th Grade Math (Possibly with support)
      • 7th Grade - 7th/8th Grade Compacted (All 7th & ½ 8th grade standards)
        • 8th Grade - 8th Grade Math (Possibly with support)
        • 8th Grade - Algebra (½ 8th & all Algebra standards)
      • 7th Grade - Algebra (½ 8th & all Algebra standards)
        • 8th Grade - Geometry
    • 6th Grade - 7th/8th Grade Compacted (All 7th & ½ 8th grade standards)
      • 7th Grade - 8th Grade Math
        • 8th Grade - Algebra (½ 8th & all Algebra standards)


If you have any additional questions please feel free to contact the Olympia School District Teaching and Learning Department [email protected].