A mom just asked me the difference between four term algebra and two term algebra. I began my answer the text book way, explaining how four term class is for weaker students, students who scored 1 or 2 on eighth grade assessments. But then, I thought and added to my response.
From my experience, kids in a four term class do not get the same sort of math education as kids in the two semester sequence. The majority of the students are weak and the material is watered down. Teaching to the bottom ignores students at the top and their chances of advancing are negligible. Many students have emotional problems and discipline is not what it should be so there is lots of wasted time. Most students in a four term sequence never end up with a good enough foundation to go on in math and successfully complete geometry and trigonometry. (Don't jump on me, I know there are exceptions, I've taught those kids but they are few and far between.)
As someone who has been in the situation, I would prefer my child end up in a two term class if college is in future plans. I would try to get him as much extra help as possible. I would gladly accept a lower grade as I know my child has ended up learning the curriculum. I have seen too many students dropped from two term to four term classes because they struggled in the beginning. Everyone worries more about statistics than education and the four term classes have become dumping grounds. I would want my child to strive to do the best possible in a difficult class rather than be the best in a situation that will not help him succeed at all.
(Portugal photos updated on Facebook.)