FAQs about Secondary Math


Click on the heading to read the answers to your questions.

What is the course sequence for middle grades and high school?

This is the course sequence adopted by the SFUSD Board of Education in February, 2014.

6-12 math core course sequence

The SFUSD math course sequence ensures a solid middle-grades foundation that not only supports all students to successfully meet the UC “c” requirement, but also prepares them for college mathematics. Having one core sequence provides focus and coherence as schools and teachers implement the CCSS-M and supports equity by creating a path for all students to experience rigorous mathematics. The decision points indicate where students and their families may choose different course options depending on their goals. Different high school course-taking options are shown on our High School Mathematics Pathways page. Read more about our Secondary Course Sequence.

How do the CCSS Math 8 and CCSS Algebra 1 courses compare to the old Algebra 1 course?

The standards that defined an Algebra 1 course under the old California standards are now divided between the CCSS Math 8 course and the CCSS Algebra 1 course, as shown below. CCSS Math 8 and CCSS Algebra 1 courses also include content from more advanced high school courses and concepts not previously taught in high school math, especially statistics.

Comparison of old Algebra 1 with CCSS Math 8 and CCSS Algebra 1

Can students skip CCSS Math 8 and go straight into CCSS Algebra 1?

No. CCSS Math 8 introduces extensive new mathematics content and is not a course that can be skipped. The content of the middle grades course sequence (CCSS Math 6, CCSS Math 7, and CCSS Math 8) is essential for preparing students for both CCSS Algebra 1 and CCSS Geometry in high school. The authors of the Common Core developed an intentional vertical connection of algebraic and geometric topics from grades K–8 through high school. CCSS Algebra 1 builds on the content students learn in CCSS Math 8 and does not repeat content from CCSS Math 8.

CCSS Algebra 1 is also much more rigorous than the old CA Algebra 1. It assumes students have already worked with linear equations and functions and then extends their study of non-linear functions to include quadratic and exponential functions—topics that were introduced in Algebra 2 in the past. CCSS Algebra 1 also includes a significant focus on statistics and applying algebraic tools to solve complex, real-world problems.

9th graders in SFUSD are automatically placed into SFUSD’s 9th grade math course, CCSS Algebra 1. However, some students have taken an Algebra 1 course outside of SFUSD before 9th grade.

If your child will be entering 9th grade and has completed, or is in the process of completing, a full-year Algebra 1 course either in their middle school or at an accredited high school or college, and they wish to be considered for placement into CCSS Geometry in 9th grade, they may be eligible to take the Math Validation Test (MVT). Course content and providers must be reviewed and approved by SFUSD in order to be eligible. Courses are evaluated ​after applicants submit their coursework documentation. This test is not required; only students who wish to take Geometry as freshmen need to take it.

Will students still be able to take AP Calculus in high school?

Yes, by doubling up or compressing courses in high school. Due to the essential nature of all CCSS courses, students can no longer accelerate in math by skipping a course. The secondary course sequence includes the option to accelerate in high school by compressing CCSS Algebra 2 with Precalculus into a one-year course. Another option is to double up in math courses during one year of high school. You can see graphical representations of different options on the High School Mathematics Pathways page. 

Depending on which high school students attend, they have one of the following possible options (1, 2, or 3) to progress to AP Calculus in their senior year. 

Option 1:

  • 9th grade: Algebra 1
  • 10th grade: Geometry
  • 11th grade: Algebra 2/Precalculus Compression
  • 12th grade: AP Calculus 

If a student wishes to take AP Calculus in their senior year without taking the compression course, there are two options that both include “doubling-up” and one option that includes an intensive Summer Geometry course between 9th and 10th grade.

Option 2:

  • 9th grade: Algebra 1
  • 10th grade: Geometry and Algebra 2
  • 11th grade: Precalculus
  • 12th grade: AP Calculus 

Option 3:

  • 9th grade: Algebra 1 and Geometry
  • 10th grade: Algebra 2
  • 11th grade: Precalculus
  • 12th grade: AP Calculus 

Option 4: 

  • 9th grade: Algebra 1
  • Summer Geometry (available seats are limited by funding)
  • 10th grade: Algebra 2
  • 11th grade: Precalculus
  • 12th grade: AP Calculus 

In either Option 2 or Option 3 above, Geometry is the course that can be “stacked” with another course since the content of Geometry is reliant on CCSS Grade 8 Math, not Algebra 1, and Algebra 2 does not rely very much on Geometry content.

Students can also take a different AP course, AP Statistics, after successfully completing Algebra 2.

Why can't students accelerate in middle school?

The mathematics of middle school is essential mathematics for life and for future math courses. For this reason, SFUSD is committed to providing all students access to middle school content without the compression or omission of standards. Also, acceleration in middle school would create separate tracks in mathematics for young learners. Decades of research have shown the harmful impacts of tracking on students' identities as math learners and their opportunities to take higher level mathematics. Tracked classes reflect and recreate racial and socio-economic inequities in our society, which is counter to our vision and guiding principles

Delaying acceleration until high school

  • supports the thoughtful progression of mathematics through middle school, some of the most important, foundational math students take
  • supports younger students to develop strong math identities doing collaborative groupwork in heterogeneous classes
  • provides the time needed for deep learning of essential concepts and to enact the Standards for Mathematical Practice
  • equips high school students to make acceleration choices that match their long-term goals for college and career

This page was last updated on February 17, 2023