SFUSD-Recommended Math Pathways
Starting with the 2014-15 school year, the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) no longer offered 8th graders the option to take Algebra 1. For more details, you can check out the SFUSD Math Department website and read the many articles that have been written about the change including those in Priceconomics, SF Chronicle, KQED, and Bay City Beacon.
The current high school 4-year math sequence now starts with Algebra in 9th grade and ends with Precalculus (or AP Statistics) in 12th grade. For students who want to take Calculus by senior year, however, there are other routes you can take. Since researching and understanding all the options can be quite confusing, I have listed and described them here on this site. These alternate sequences may require extra effort, some luck (to get into certain classes), and coordination with your high school counselor, but I hope this site helps you find the best path for you!
Pathway #1) SFUSD Traditional Math Sequence - Gets to Precalculus
In the current math sequence, high school freshmen (9th grade) are enrolled in Algebra (unless they already took it at a non-SFUSD school and passed the Math Validation Test). Students would then take Geometry in 10th grade/sophomore year, Algebra 2 in 11th grade, and Precalculus and/or AP Statistics in 12th. In this sequence, students do not get to Calculus by senior year.
Pathway #2) SFUSD Compression Course - Gets to Calculus
The other SFUSD-recommended option, which very few students choose, is to take a “compression” class in 11th grade that squeezes two years of math--Algebra 2 and Precalculus--into one year. This would allow you to take Calculus during senior year. The downside is that it moves quickly and skips over some concepts, but at least you don't have to take a math class outside of school. Also, SFUSD doesn’t recognize this class as honors so your grade will not be weighted in your GPA.
Pathways #3 & #4) Doubling Up - Gets to Calculus
Two other ways to get to Calculus, while taking all of your math classes at school, is by doubling up freshman year (taking Algebra 1 and Geometry concurrently) or sophomore year (taking Geometry and Algebra 2 concurrently). You need to request permission from your school, however, and there aren’t enough spots for everyone who asks to double up as priority for freshman Geometry enrollment goes to those who already completed Algebra 1 and passed the MVT. But even though the SFUSD website lists doubling up as one of their recommended sequences, I have heard from students at SOTA, Washington, and Wallenberg high schools that this was not available an option. So be sure to check with your high school.
However, some kids who double up may struggle with the workload of taking an additional math class on top of adjusting to high school. I would only recommend it if you’re pretty strong in math. In my Geometry class, I saw some students get frustrated when the homework required knowing some concepts they still hadn’t learned in their Algebra class. In addition, by doubling up you miss the opportunity of enrolling in other elective classes such as band, orchestra or art since there won’t be room in your schedule.
If you are unable to double up at school, an alternative option (if your high school allows it) is to take a UC-approved Geometry/Algebra 2 class online. You can search for classes on this UC website, though most students use one of the three online schools I recommended for 8th grade Algebra. Before registering, be sure to ask your high school counselor for approval!
Below you’ll find a chart summarizing the recommended math sequences for students who plan to take all their math classes at their SFUSD high school. To learn about alternative methods for reaching Calculus by senior year, including taking online Algebra in 8th grade, visit the Workaround Pathways to Calculus section.
Please make sure to confirm any information you read with your school principal/counselor as each high school has different class offerings (some may not offer Calculus BC, for instance) and rules regarding doubling up.
(All Classes Taken at School)
|Pathway #||Grade 8||Grade 9||Grade 10||Grade 11||Grade 12|
|Pathway 1 (Gets to Precalculus)||Math 8||Algebra 1||Geometry||Algebra 2|
|Pathway 2 (Compression Class)||Math 8||Algebra 1||Geometry||Algebra 2 + Precalculus Compression Class|
- AP Calculus
|Pathway 3 (Doubling up 9th grade)||Math 8||Algebra 1 & Geometry (double up)||Algebra 2||Precalculus|
- AP Calculus
|Pathway 4 (Doubling up 10th grade)||Math 8||Algebra 1||Geometry & Algebra 2 (double up)||Precalculus|
- AP Calculus
Notes: Not all of the 11th-12th grade classes listed are offered at all SFUSD high schools--call the school or check their course catalog online. Precalculus is available as an an honors class; Algebra 1 & 2, Geometry and Compression are non-honors. Calculus AB and BC are both AP classes but BC is a more rigorous class since it covers the same content plus additional math concepts.