Middle School (6-8) Structures

  • In grades 6-8, students experience about 75 minutes (two instructional periods) of math every day. Acceleration of learning is provided throughout the double block (two periods of instruction). The structure of each day may vary according to student needs. Typically, however, students can expect to engage both in teacher-facilitated learning via a daily lesson and also student-directed learning via work time on tasks that meet students’ individual learning needs.

    The daily lesson is rich in cognitive demanding tasks that have a low floor and high ceiling and call for student-to-student dialogue with opportunities to revise thinking as students figure out mathematical concepts by completing novel tasks built to uncover the rigorous learning expectations of the grade. In the lessons, students have opportunities to apply and analyze multiple methods to solve problems as well as to create challenge problems for peers while also solving challenge problems created by peers. Our middle school environment embraces the rich diversity of thinking in our classrooms, where all students benefit from having multiple perspectives and academic peers in their class.

    Students’ regular opportunity to work on individualized tasks comes from a rich Task Library that has been built by District 65 math educators to include a large variety of tasks for each learning expectation. Teachers work with students regularly to support their choices to work on tasks that will best accelerate their learning. Tasks range in difficulty and complexity. All tasks are aligned with learning expectations of the grade.

      6-8 Mathematics

      • 6-8 Mathematics

        The Middle School Mathematics program comprises four years of standards in its three years of instruction, allowing D65 students to advance one year beyond the state’s standards for students finishing 8th grade.

        In the 2022-2023 school year, our middle school math program saw the strongest growth data, for all levels of students, than it has seen in several years. We attribute this to the massive updates that have been made to the scope, sequence, and instructional materials used in grades 6 through 8.

        Our two primary curricular resources, used every day, is the Desmos Core Curriculum and the District 65 Choice Library. These two resources used in tandem are intended to meet the needs of diverse learners and create a robust learning environment for all, rich in differentiation and high quality math learning.

        Our accelerated pathway is part of District 65’s commitment to ensuring a robust learning experience for all students, and ensuring readiness for high-level high school mathematics.

        Click on the tabs above to learn more about District 65’s middle school math program.

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      • Honors/AP Pathway

        All students in District 65 are on a pathway to honors and AP math coursework in high school. We make this possible by teaching high school level Algebra as part of our 8th grade curriculum, thus accelerating the learning of all students one year beyond the expectations of the Common Core Standards. 

        This acceleration of learning for all students enables access to AP Calculus BC during high school without necessitating alternate placement or high stakes testing. All students who perform at high levels within their math coursework have the opportunity to advance to honors level work throughout high school without requiring alternative placement. This coursework includes honors level Geometry, honors level Algebra 2, honors level Precalculus, and AP Calculus BC during their senior year.

        AP Calculus BC is the highest level of math offered by the College Board and is equivalent to the first two semesters of college calculus. According to the Mathematical Association of America, about 2.3% of students nationwide take AP Calculus BC in high school.

        Students who do not wish to take AP Calculus BC may make this decision during high school. Alternatives include AP Calculus AB, AP Statistics, Introduction to Finite Math, STEAM DTI, AP Computer Science, AP Computer Science Principles, and College Algebra. For more information, visit the Course Selection Guide on the Evanston Township High School's website.

        Pathway to Algebra

        Unlike many neighboring districts, District 65 incorporates high school Algebra 1 standards into its middle school pathway for all students. This allows the option for all students to accelerate an entire year beyond the expectations of the Common Core by the time they enter high school. As a result, eligible 8th graders have the opportunity to earn honors credit in their Geometry course freshman year. Students who complete Geometry in their freshman year are on a pathway to complete AP Calculus in high school.

        The diagram below shows the pathway for learning in middle school that can be expected for 6th graders in the fall.

        By providing four years of standards during the three years of middle school, Evanston is able to accelerate the learning of all students one year beyond the standards set by common core. This allows students to enter into a rigorous high school pathway of math studies. Below are example pathways that current 5th graders might expect when they enroll in high school at ETHS.

        For further information, please review a more detailed view of the ETHS pathways.

        Historically, 4-5% of students in Evanston will take Multivariable Calculus/Linear Algebra (“MV Calc”). Students in this course are among the strongest math students in the country. This pathway is the one shown at the bottom of the diagram above. Taking MV/LA requires accelerating an additional year beyond Evanston’s already accelerated curriculum, i.e. taking Advanced Algebra 2 Honors freshman year. A number of options are available for students looking to follow the MV Calculus/Linear Algebra pathway in high school, such as taking Geometry in the summer or taking Geometry in an alternative way, such as via remote learning  during middle school. Both districts are committed to considering the various options to ensure a pathway to Multivariable Calculus/Linear Algebra.

        Note that 7th grade students  in Algebra this school year (2020-21) will take Geometry in School Year 2021-2022.

      Further Advancement

      • Further Advancement

        Freshman Year Algebra II

        Historically, about 4% of Evanston Township High School (ETHS) students take AP Calculus BC junior year, followed by Multivariable Calculus / Linear Algebra their senior year.  Multivariable Calculus / Linear Algebra is equivalent to the 3rd and 4th semesters of a typical college math sequence. This course extends beyond AP coursework offered by the College Board. Multivariable Calculus / Linear Algebra is offered only by select high schools in the country, one of them being ETHS.

        Students interested in taking Multivariable Calculus / Linear Algebra must take Calculus BC during their Junior year of high school, which requires taking Algebra 2 during freshman year. To do this, students have a variety of options:

        • Summer Geometry: Students may take a High School Geometry course during the summer prior to freshman year. Successful completion of this course allows a student to take Advanced 2 Algebra Honors freshman year, which offers a pathway to take Multivariable Calculus / Linear Algebra senior year. The course will be offered at ETHS. Registration and information about this course can be found here: https://www.eths.k12.il.us/domain/252 
        • Independent Study (in school): District 65 offers the option for strongly motivated students to learn High School Geometry during WIN time in their middle school math class, provided that they are already meeting all of the course expectations. This learning is offered by a self-paced, independent learning platform, ALEKS. If a student or family is interested in this option, they should reach out to their teacher. Students should be meeting all learning expectations before signing up for ALEKS. If student and teacher agree that enrolling in ALEKS makes sense, then the teacher will provide the student with a form to complete and the student will be given log-in information.
                ALEKS is for students who
          • already meet all the learning expectations.
          • wish to start high school in Algebra 2 instead of in Geometry
                ALEKS must be done
          • independently (self-paced) - the teacher is not obliged to help in any way
          • only once all classwork is complete and of high quality
        • Independent Study (out of school): Contact ETHS Math Chair, Dale Leibforth (leibforthd@eths202.org) before following this option. ETHS allows students to enroll in Algebra 2 during their freshman year if they can demonstrate learning of the HS Geometry standards. Seat time in a Geometry class is not always required to take Algebra 2 freshman year. Motivated students may learn Geometry independently. There are several free online resources available to support independent learning of Geometry, including OpenUp, Illustrative Math, FishTank and CK-12. ETHS has the final determination as to whether a student has mastered the competencies expected of High School Geometry. This opportunity is best for students who are motivated enough to learn math independently. This decision should be made no later than 7th grade in order to provide time to learn the content. 
        • Dual Enrollment: Students may opt to take Geometry and Algebra 2 at the same time during 9th grade. (This option is best for students who truly enjoy mathematics as it will take away the opportunity for an elective class during freshman year. This decision can be made during 8th grade)
        • Grade Skipping: Review our page on Alternate Placement for more information. Grade skipping should be evaluated during 6th grade or earlier. Skipping Algebra is never advised 

        District 65 and 202 are committed to maintaining open and varied access to the highest levels of mathematics. All students who are able to perform well in class and who have the desire to take on the most difficult high school math taught in the country are encouraged to explore the options above.  We are proud that our system works to support student joy and strong emotional health as they engage in rigorous math as opposed to supporting a testing system that is often strife with emotional angst and harmful to children.

        If your child is interested in taking Calculus BC Junior year and you are looking for more information regarding the best option to do so, please contact either District 65 STEM Director David Wartowski (wartowskid@district65.net) or ETHS Math Department Chair Dale Leibforth (leibforthd@eths.k12.il.us).

      Other Resources

      • Evanston Math Circle

        Looking for an enjoyable way to explore math outside of school? 

        Math Circle, run by Northwestern University, is geared towards eager middle-school students, but students of other ages and backgrounds are welcome as well.

        To learn about future dates, join the Math Circle listserv.

        Here's how:

        To subscribe to the Math Circle mailing list to receive announcements about upcoming sessions, send an email to LISTSERV@LISTSERV.IT.NORTHWESTERN.EDU with no subject line and with body text:
        SUBSCRIBE MATH-CIRCLE FirstName LastName
        You will receive a response via email asking you to confirm your request. (Check your junk folder if you do not receive such a response.)
        At any point, you can unsubscribe from their mailing list by sending an email to the same address as above with no subject line and with body text: UNSUBSCRIBE MATH-CIRCLE

        More information is available at http://www.math.northwestern.edu/~scanez/mathcircle/

        Also - ask your teacher about Math Club at your child's school!