The Middle School Math program embodies a culture of enrichment, discovery, and joy. Sidwell Friends believes that students construct their own mathematical understanding by regularly grappling with challenging, nonroutine problems that require flexibility and deep conceptual mastery. To that end, teachers emphasize enriching students’ understanding of the material they explore through rigorous and in-depth theoretical analysis rather than by covering many topics superficially.

In 5th grade, students are not put into math groups, but rather take math with their fellow homeroom classmates under the instruction of their homeroom teacher, who provides a differentiated learning environment to ensure that all students are both adequately supported and challenged. Starting in 6th grade, instructors place Middle School math students into one of three groupings based on their skill level, independence, and comfort with abstract ideas. However, the School remains committed to the goal of flexibility as students move from one year of math to the next, and parents who are anxious about their child’s placement in a math group should be assured that choices remain open to students throughout the four-year program.

The 5th and 6th grade math curriculum builds computational fluency with whole numbers, decimals, fractions, percentages, and signed numbers, as well as skills in proportional reasoning, statistical analysis, and the measurement of both two-dimensional figures and three-dimensional solids. Interdisciplinary projects in data analysis and design thinking give students exciting opportunities to apply numerical concepts to their daily lives.

The 7th grade Math program uses topics such as number theory, modular arithmetic, Boolean logic, circuit theory, probability, combinatorics, matrix operations, and geometric constructions to help students develop the abstract- thinking skills necessary for a thorough mastery of algebraic concepts in their 8th grade Algebra I course. Due to the high level of abstraction with which classes approach these topics, this 7th grade curriculum is typically able to challenge the most talented 7th grade students entering from other schools, even if they have already completed an Algebra I course.

The 8th grade Math program offers introductory, regular,or advanced Algebra I. Both the regular and advanced Algebra I courses are rigorous, analytical courses that develop concepts through exploration and problem-solving. In introductory Algebra I, students cover fundamentals in depth and at a pace that prepares them for a formal Algebra I class in 9th grade.

To support and enrich the many students who love tackling mathematical challenges, the Middle School has a 5/6 Math Club for 5th and 6th graders and a Mathcounts program
for 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, both of which have weekly meetings. Students may also attend math meets with other local private schools and compete in the regional and national Mathcounts competitions in the spring. Due to their extensive exposure to problem-solving challenges in the curriculum, student teams from Sidwell Friends routinely win the local math meets and regional Mathcounts competitions.