MathCounts: No More Homeschool Teams

MATHCOUNTSIf you’ve heard rumors about the new ruling, here is the official take.

I try to avoid ranting on this blog, but I’m deeply disappointed. My students always enjoyed the team aspect of working/suffering together. I don’t know if any of them will be willing to participate as individuals.


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11 thoughts on “MathCounts: No More Homeschool Teams

  1. Denise, I think this is an awful ruling and I hope that with enough letters from parents and coaches it may be reversed. But for your students, chances are that your state will let them take the team round “unofficially” at least. I can’t recall if your team was competitive or not, but if not, doing it unofficially will be fine. The main issue is qualifying to State, which is usually much harder as an individual than a team! Good luck.

  2. Our local chapter does allow the individuals to do the team round unofficially, which I’ve always appreciated. They let us bring an alternate (to substitute if one of the team members is sick), and then they pool all the alternates to create “teams” for the Team Round. But it’s definitely not the same as working with one’s buddies.

    For us, the issue is not qualifying for State, since my current students aren’t in that ballpark. It’s just the change in relationship dynamics, from working as a team to working as an individual — the whole “feel” of the program is different, more competitive rather than cooperative.

  3. If you bring 4 kids, won’t they let them work together on the team round “as if” they were a “real” team, so they would still be working with their buddies? When our chapter pools the alternates and individuals, if there’s a request as to how to team them up and it creates a full foursome, they always honor that request (and they try even when it doesn’t create a full foursome). It’s just that those teams can’t win. Which if you’re competitive to win, stinks, but if you’re not, is kind of a non-starter. (Our chapter does score the unofficial teams and you can see where you ranked, even though you can’t officially win anything as a team.) I’ve been following this “story” for a few days but hadn’t seen the official word until your post. We’re a small school that has in the past occasionally used the “small schools” rule to combine with another school to have enough kids for a team. And that option is being removed as well. I hate the logic that because some people were using a rule to cheat, they have to do away with it altogether.😦

  4. Our chapter doesn’t bother to score the unofficial teams, but they probably would let the kids work together, if we had enough of them.

    I don’t know how many people could have been cheating, really. Homeschoolers and small schools are such a tiny percentage of the total participants, and most of us are honest — just as most regular schools are honest, but it’s the ones who cheat on standardized tests that make the news. So the MathCounts cheaters have to be an almost unnoticeable number compared to the whole.

    MathCounts says they’ve heard a lot of complaints, and I’m sure they have. The year we happened to have a decent homeschool team, there were a slew of complaints, especially from the team that had won the prior five years: “It’s not fair! They don’t play by the same rules! They can just sit around and work on math all day. They don’t have to have a well-rounded education…” It’s funny how the years that my team came in dead last, no one complained, but when the team succeeded — well!

    Homeschoolers in my area have been banned from other competitions, too, due to similar complaints. Hearing the complaint does NOT mean that the complaint is valid.

  5. Agreed. Just based on the math it makes no sense. There are fewer middle-school-aged homeschoolers in my whole state than the number of kids in the local middle school, so the argument I’ve seen going around that homeschoolers get to draw from a wider geographic area are silly, given the much, much smaller pool. And they could always limit it to homeschoolers living within the chapter boundaries if they wanted to limit the geographic range. The only schools that have a true advantage would be a private or magnet school for the gifted, and *those* aren’t being disqualified.

    When you ask them why the make it so much easier to qualify to State as a team than as an individual, they will tell you that Mathcounts is all about the teamwork. But I guess that benefit is something they’re not interested in offering homeschoolers or small schools anymore.😦

  6. That link isn’t working from this computer. (I’ll try it later on my desktop.) I want to send a letter. I’m not actually a homeschooler, but I work with many homeschoolers. I haven’t yet participated in MathCounts, but I would have liked to eventually. My son’s current school is so small (6 to 8 kids), many wouldn’t even think of it as a school.

  7. Sue, my kids go to a school with about 30 kids K-8 and they do MathCounts each year even though they don’t always have a full team. Last 2 years we were able to use the (now dead) small schools rule to combine with another small school and bring 1 of their students onto our team. So we’re bummed about the new restrictions too, but will keep competing anyhow. It’s a very good program — it’s a shame that they’re diminishing it for homeschoolers and students at tiny schools like ours and yours (if you could find another very small school in your chapter, under 8 kids in each of 6th 7th and 8th grades, you would have been able to combine to make a team — you need 4 kids for a team). They’re strict about age/grade eligibility, so we can’t use younger kids to fill out our team either😦

  8. I just noticed that they’ve published the new Homeschool Affidavit, which asks homeschoolers to attach a piece of official paperwork certifying that they homeschool. That may be fine in some states, but in Illinois, there is no such thing. I suppose we would just have to make something up to satisfy the paperwork?😦

    I guess it doesn’t matter to me, since I’m sure I won’t have enough interested students to participate this year. Instead of MathCounts, I’m going to try to get a group together to play with Don Cohen’s stuff.

  9. Hey Denise, Any update on this? HSLDA got involved last year and as a result homeschool teams that had gone the previous year were allowed to go this last year. So even though our coach had moved I fought to keep a team active this year from our support group so we may still be allowed to continue. I have not heard any more, but wonder what will be the case for this next year. Our 2011 team was not competitive but was officially included last February at our regional level in California.

    http://www.hslda.org/docs/news/201008230.asp
    https://mathcounts.org/Document.Doc?id=541

    1. Hi, Linda!
      Check out the Homeschool MathCounts Google group. I think they will be the best source of continuing information as the rules for next year are announced.

      I gave up on MathCounts after my boys moved on to high school, though Kitten and I are using their materials at home. My current Math Club kids aren’t interested in that level of problem solving — they are more at the “let’s play and explore” stage. Still, the local MathCounts coordinator sent me a couple of emails this January to encourage me to sign up. Our chapter has such a small turnout each year that he was eager to stretch the rules and include us…

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