"I'm curious - how easy is it for a late developing student to slot into the accelerated class after Grade 8? I can see merit in this system, as it offers challenges for the best mathematicians in the Grade, but I wonder if it locks out some students who weren't ready in Grade 8, but may be by Grade 11"
I have serveral random thoughts to share:
I personally was not allowed to take Algebra one in the 8th grade due to my verbal scores on some test in the 7th grade--don't remember which one right now and don't think it was worth the paper it was written on. I had to double up one year (alg II and Geometry) and I don't think it hurt me at all. ( The only real problem was the psycological impression that not being allowed to take the 8th grade algebra made on me.......I have always know that I was more "mathematical" than "verbal" and the schools systems criteria for 8th grade algebra one was terrible --it did not consider my strengths only my weekness---the only way to save my wounded pride was to be the "best" algebra one student in the 9th grade)
I think that placement is important and there is more than one way to "skin a cat" and each student should be considered as an individual........in teaching, high school for many year (with Geometry one of my favorites to teach and 7 years of Calculus), I have found that maturity is the key. Some students are ready early and some are not---it's just a fact of life. I have found it best to always remember the students' needs should drive the Math program and curriculum not the teachers' desires to teach certain subjects. To many programs(especially in small schools) place students in Algebra too early just to have the numbers to "build up the Math program". In the long run this only hurts the Math program and can make the student dislike math.