Math Department

Washington Middle School believes that all students have strengths in math. We believe in the importance of building a strong math community where students are expected to work independently, in pairs, and in small groups. Just as teachers collaborate weekly, we expect our students to work and learn from each other.

Washington offers a variety of courses to meet the needs of all of our learners. Students are placed in the next course in the sequence. If we are unable to determine the last course, a placement test may be given. Math courses at Washington are mixed-grade classes where 6th, 7th and 8th grade students work together to gain conceptual understanding. We strive to ensure that all students are appropriately challenged.

All coursework is determined by the Common Core State Standards and the Seattle Public Schools scope and sequence guide. For questions, please contact Washington M.S. Math Coach - Wendy Miller: or 206-252-2593.

Courses Offered

  • EMP (Math Empowerment Elective for 6th Grade)
  • Math 6
  • Math 7
  • Math 8
  • Algebra 1
  • Geometry
  • Algebra 2
  • SPED Math (6th, 7th, and 8th Grade)

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a placement test my student needs to take?
No. Students will be enrolled in the next math course in the sequence.

Will my student's SBA (Smarter Balanced) score be used to determine their initial math placement?
No. Students will be enrolled in the next math course in the sequence. If a student was in 5th grade mathematics last year, they will be scheduled to take 6th grade mathematics the next year. If a student was a 5th grader, but taking 6th grade mathematics, they will be scheduled to take 7th grade mathematics. There are two exceptions. The SBA will help determine placement for 6th graders in Algebra 1. The SBA will also be used for families who are requesting to "opt-up" to the next course in sequence.

Will MAP testing be used to determine my student’s math placement?
No. MAP testing is not being used consistently throughout the district so it will not be used for math placement.

‚ÄčWill teachers’ recommendations from elementary school play a role in placement?
No.  Students will be enrolled in the next math course in the sequence.

We are interested in enrolling our 6th grader in Algebra 1.  What is the process?
Algebra 1 is an extremely rigorous, high-school course. WMS strives to make sure that students are both academically and emotionally prepared for the type and amount of work required of this course. In order to be eligible for Algebra1:

  • A student's SBA (Smarter Balanced) 5th grade score must be ≥ 2650 (SBA must be completed).
  • A student must express a strong desire to be challenged by this course.
  • If these two criteria are met, WMS will administer an assessment in August to determine if students have the required content and process knowledge to be successful in Algebra 1.

Please contact the math department if you are interested in your student being placed in Algebra 1.

Does cognitive testing come into play at all?
No. Students will be enrolled in the next math course in the sequence.

Are there HCC or Spectrum math classes at Washington Middle School?
No.  Math students at Washington are not separated by program. Students are placed in classes based on their next course in the sequence. Classes will be filled by students from 6th, 7th and 8th grade students who are all being appropriately challenged with content.

What do you mean by mixed grade level classes?
Washington Middle School students are placed in math classes based on the next course in sequence. That means that an 8th grade math class might have 6th, 7th and 8th graders working together. All students in the same course will be working on the same material. 

Can my student opt-up a year?
WMS do not support skipping a course in the sequence, but we recognize that some families and students want to exercise that option. Families interested in opting up one year should review the attachment that describes the skills and knowledge that students should have prior to enrollment. In order to be eligible to opt-up, students must be incoming 6th graders and they must have earned a “4” on the 5th grade SBA. Students may not opt-up beyond Math 8. All families must fill-out the SPS Op-Up contract and complete the process by the end of the second week of school. 

What curriculum are you using?
Due to adopting the Common Core standards, the SPS's current curriculum is not sufficient. The district will be adopting a new text, but that will not be for a few years.  In the meantime, all teachers will be following the scope and sequence as provided by SPS. Students will not have a text, but will have lessons provided by the teacher. We will be using a variety of resources such as Engage NY, Utah Middle School Math Project and Illustrative Mathematics. 

Do all math classes use standards-based grading?
Standards-based grading is an individual teacher decision.

My student is enrolling at Washington Middle School and SPS for the first time?  What math class will they be assigned to?
We will look at the prior coursework completed by the student. If necessary, we will talk with their previous school.  We will then place them in the next course in sequence. If we are unable to determine what the next course should be, we will administer an assessment to the student.

Can I move my student to another math class during the year?
While we would like to be able to accommodate changes in the schedule, we do not have the capacity to move math courses after the first few weeks of school. We work very hard to ensure that your student is in the proper class.

How can I prepare my student to opt-up or to continue to grow in mathematics?
The Common Core math standards are very rigorous. What used to be taught in high-school Algebra, may now be found in 8th grade. The same is true at many grade levels. The Common Core standards also go more in-depth into topics and focus on math practices such as modeling, reasoning, and structure. Before you make any decisions on opting-up, please look at the standards for each grade-level (see link). If you would like to supplement your student’s curriculum, there are a variety of resources online such as Khan Academy that provide standards support. Go to the website and type in the grade level standard and you will find activities and videos.

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