My occupation is as a math and science teacher. When I started teaching back in 1985 I used Bob Jones and A Beka textbooks. Since I have been at EBA I have used primarily Saxon Math (the blue Algebra 1/2, orange Algebra I, red Algebra II, and green Advanced Math). Though I am a creature of habit and am comfortable with Saxon, I think I have fallen in love with their model of incremental learning with integrated review. Students who have gone through the entire math sequence have been very successful with college math and life application math.
But Saxon is not for everyone, especially for students who struggle with math. For those students I recommend alternatives:
1. One of the best I have seen in recent years is Teaching Textbooks (www.teachingtextbooks.com). This series of math textbooks gives full explanations, thorough examples with every step laid out, some review problems in every lesson, and an emphasis on “the basics” that must be mastered for each course. But the real strength is that every course is accompanied by a set of DVDs with teacher instruction for each lesson, AND another set of DVDs with solutions for every problem in every lesson, so if a student is “stuck,” they don’t have to wait for dad to get home from work, eat supper, put his feet up, reread the textbook to catch up, and then teach the concept the way he learned it in school!
2. I have used different courses from Key Curriculum Press (www.keypress.com) to help students master fractions, decimals, percents, geometry, and algebra. Well written, easy to understand, and laid out step by step for the student.
3. Though we use the Accelerated Christian Education PACES in our school, I do not use their math beyond 6th grade, with the exception of their Geometry course. For a student who needs Geometry and will be working independently, this PACE course is well done, though there are some tough concepts about half way into the course that students often need outside help with to master.
4. The Math-U-See curriculum is highly recommended by some for students who struggle with math, but the high school students I have seen who have used their curriculum exclusively are often seriously deficient in math and score poorly on standardized tests. That may not totally be a problem with the curriculum — maybe it’s just a reminder that they struggle with math, which is why they went with that publisher in the first place!
5. I ordered the new edition of Saxon to use in our school this year — and didn’t like it. Ended up going back to the old Algebra 1/2! I felt it moved too fast, left the students struggling on every lesson, and tried to include too many concepts that various state mandates want included.
Whatever you choose, I highly recommend sticking with the same publisher for Algebra I and Algebra II (and pre-algebra if possible). The transitions will be much smoother from year to year than if you just to a different curriculum mid-stream.
Another recommendation for students who struggle – take an accounting course or consumer math course. I just learned that Dave Ramsey has published his own homeschool consumer math curriculum. I have tried the Bob Jones, A Beka, Alpha Omega, and ACE consumer or business math courses and found that all of them are very challenging and discouraging for a math-struggler. If you know of other good alternatives, please leave a comment!