It’s a question that I get all the time, and it’s about Saxon Algebra:
Your middle school student is done with Saxon 7/6 and it’s time to move forward. But you have one friend who swears Saxon Math 8/7 is the next step, and another who says their kid didn’t need it and moved straight to Saxon Algebra ½. Or your child sailed through Saxon 8/7 and you don’t know whether Saxon Algebra ½ is the right step or Saxon Algebra 1.
“Where do I go from here, Nicole?” To start to answer that, it’s important to know what each book dealing with Saxon Algebra offers. We’ll start with the “official” description of the books.
This text offers coverage of fractions, decimals, percents, geometry, area, volume, ratio, probability, proportion, exponents, scientific notation, signed numbers, order of operations, scaling, algebraic terms, 2-step equations and inequalities, slope, graphing, the Pythagorean Theorem. This text contains pre-Algebra work, and is often used for students in 6th or 7th grades.
This text offers coverage of fractions, scientific notation, area, percent, ratio, order of operations, graphing, roots, polynomials, linear equations, beginning algebra concepts. This text, too, contains important pre-Algebra concepts. It is often used for students in 7th or 8th grade.
The Saxon Algebra 1 text offers coverage of signed numbers, exponents, solving equations, two equations with unknowns, graphing equations, scientific notation, ratio, percent, variation, unit conversions, geometry, trinomials, rational equations, perimeter, area, volume, English to metric conversion, surface area, quadratic formula.
This textbook is often used in 8th or 9th grade. It is designed to be part of a three-textbook, secondary school/high school math series. When followed by Algebra 2 and Advanced Mathematics, it comprises a 4-credit math curriculum (the 4th credit is geometry, which is integrated and advanced incrementally throughout all three books).
So, what should you do after you finish 7/6? Well, it depends. You can see from the topics covered that there is a fair amount of overlap in 8/7 and Saxon Algebra ½. However, if you remember that Saxon has a strong emphasis on building good foundations, you can see why it’s important to have a very solid one before you move into the different and sometimes difficult concepts found in Algebra 1.
So, if let’s say you have a student who did well in 8/7 (consider defining “well” as averaging at least 80% or a “B” grade). If you believe he or she has a really solid foundation then it’s entirely possible that they could move into Algebra 1 without any trouble.
If, however, you want to shore up the foundation even more, or if your student struggled a bit with 8/7, Saxon Algebra ½ is a great solution to use between 8/7 and Algebra 1. A better foundation will only help the building, right? Algebra ½ can also be nice to have a year when math feels “easier” if you have other difficult topics to tackle, too, or if for some reason your student needs a confidence boost.
Remember, even if a concept is covered in both texts, there are often slight differences in the approach to how it is taught from book to book. Those small differences can really help something click for a student. So while the concepts are the same and the books may seem similar, they are certainly not identical. I’ve not heard of many, if any, students who do the Saxon 8/7—> Saxon ½ —-> Algebra 1 track and regret it.
Alternatively, you could move from 8/7 directly to Algebra 1, but be prepared to cover the material at a slower pace. That can be challenging if you like to complete a lesson a day or a book per school year but would serve the same purpose of foundation-building.
That’s a lot of information, so we’ll cover more of your questions like which editions to use, how geometry fits in, and more in the future. For now, I hope this helps you make some choices as you move forward in Saxon!