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regentrude

Vent: just another example of high schools letting students down

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How is it possible that a student who completed precalculus, trigonometry and calculus at his public high school and got As in all three courses takes the college math placement test and scores in the 6th percentile, placing into remedial algebra (not even college algebra)??? What on earth is wrong with those schools?

 

ETA: And no, the student did not just have a bad day on placement test day. He proceeded to struggle in algebra and is currently failing trigonometry. 

Edited by regentrude
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I suspect that a lot of high school math teachers grade on a curve and pass kids through.

 

Do you know what his SAT/ACT scores were?

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How is it possible that a student who completed precalculus, trigonometry and calculus at his public high school and got As in all three courses takes the college math placement test and scores in the 6th percentile, placing into remedial algebra (not even college algebra)??? What on earth is wrong with those schools?

 

ETA: And no, the student did not just have a bad day on placement test day. He proceeded to struggle in algebra and is currently failing trigonometry.

Wow!

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1) grade inflation is rampant

teachers trying to keep admins, parents and students "happy" now versus have them face reality

 

2) the courses actually never complete the published or unpublished syllabus - too many weak students forced into higher level courses so they just dumb it down

     especially true in Math

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How is it possible that a student who completed precalculus, trigonometry and calculus at his public high school and got As in all three courses takes the college math placement test and scores in the 6th percentile, placing into remedial algebra (not even college algebra)??? What on earth is wrong with those schools?

 

ETA: And no, the student did not just have a bad day on placement test day. He proceeded to struggle in algebra and is currently failing trigonometry. 

 

Maybe students memorize how to do the problems for the test without a real understanding of what they're doing...?

 

 

 

Similarly, how is it possible that at least 5-6 out of 20 students in an upper level psychology class (for which a basic high school or college intro to psychology class is required) have never heard of Pavlov and his dogs?? It's not that they didn't remember the study, they never even heard the name before!

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Similarly, how is it possible that at least 5-6 out of 20 students in an upper level psychology class (for which a basic high school or college intro to psychology class is required) have never heard of Pavlov and his dogs?? It's not that they didn't remember the study, they never even heard the name before!

 

I am not surprised. 

Over half of my science and engineering majors have never heard of Kepler's laws of planetary motion.

Edited by regentrude
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This thread is seriously depressing me!

 

On the other hand, maybe it should make me feel good. As pathetic as my attempts at homeschooling science and math are, at least we covered all these topics! (LOL)

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Holy cow.  That's really sad.  That poor kid must be feeling pretty lousy right now.

 

Social promotion seems to be a widespread problem.  My DD is tutoring a high school freshman in algebra right now.  It is glaringly obvious that the girl's issue is not that she is having trouble with the current concepts but that she doesn't know her basic math.  DD has had to go back and re-teach concepts like division of decimal numbers.  It's very frustrating.

 

I feel a bit guilty sometimes, because my child isn't going to graduate with a 9.46 GPA (being a tad hyperbolic here).  Despite the frequent requirement that we must validate "mommy grades," I think "mommy grades" are certainly no worse than the meaningless grades that seem to be generated at many public schools.

 

(Thanks for the post, OP.  I could assist you venting on this subject all day.  :glare: )

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When DD was starting Algebra I and I was wondering how to grade her tests and assign a grade, I asked a friend who has a son in  public school what the grading procedure was for Algebra I.  She said 50% of the grade was based on tests, and the remaining 50% was on homework completion and projects.  Full homework credit was assigned to the homework if it was done, regardless of how many problems were wrong or how thoroughly the homework had been completed.  No projects had yet been assigned, so the neighbor didn't have any way to describe what the projects were or how they were graded.  In our district, the lowest grade given for anything that has been handed in is 50%; even if only 1 problem was completed on a test, 50% was the floor for an "F".  So basically, a student could get zeros on all tests (he'd have a 50 average for 50% of his grade because of the grade floor), and then homework and projects could be given an "A" for completion and would be the remaining 50% of the grade.  So this hypothetical kid could get a "C" in the course and still have received zeros on all tests.  It's nuts....

 

ETA:  I have another friend who was in DD's GT fifth grade class; sharp kid, and mom is a high school math teacher.  He recently told a neighborhood middle schooler that  Algebra II was "impossible" and he didn't know how he was going to get a decent grade without after school tutoring from his mom.  This was one of the brightest kids I knew from elementary school, but the schools here just don't teach basic arithmetic well, so the kids fall flat on their faces when they get to high school math.

 

This kind of administrative sleight of hand from my district also hides the failures and low scores of middle school students, which sets them up for future failure:

 

http://pilotonline.com/news/local/education/report-blasts-norfolk-schools-tactics-on-testing/article_de6cafd7-641c-50b8-9e15-320880363604.html

 

I suspect many urban districts pull this nonsense in order to meet federal and state testing goals. 

 

Edited by reefgazer
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Regarding projects, I wonder if those are posters?  I remember reading that what exchange students visiting the US find remarkable is the number of posters that are assigned in school.  

 

Sure enough, when I accompanied dd to her high school classroom for her PSAT, it turned out to be used for AP statistics, and sure enough, there were the student-drawn posters, all over the walls.  (Some were quite creative!)  But time spent creating lovely posters is time not being spent learning statistics, doing problem sets, prepping for the exam.  

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After 4 years of homeschooling, my daughter has gone back to public school and is in 9th grade. For the first time ever she got straight As. Guess I was a lot tougher on her with homeschooling. I'm really disappointed with the study skills class she is taking there and don't feel that she's learned a thing (but she loves hanging with the kids as there is a lot of hanging out and chatting in there). And I'm very disappointed with the science teacher. A very nice man but tenured and really needs to retire. He comes in grumpy most days, he yells at them or talks non stop about the cross country team he coaches and they just read the textbook and take notes. All tests are open book and he tells them they get an A if they fill out their notebooks. But he gives them the exact notes to write down. My daughter is fascinated with being in public school and all the other kids and I doubt she'll come back to homeschooling. So sad!

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Edited by GThomas
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After 4 years of homeschooling, my daughter has gone back to public school and is in 9th grade. For the first time ever she got straight As. Guess I was a lot tougher on her with homeschooling. I'm really disappointed with the study skills class she is taking there and don't feel that she's learned a thing (but she loves hanging with the kids as there is a lot of hanging out and chatting in there). And I'm very disappointed with the science teacher. A very nice man but tenured and really needs to retire. He comes in grumpy most days, he yells at them or talks non stop about the cross country team he coaches and they just read the textbook and take notes. All tests are open book and he tells them they get an A if they fill out their notebooks. But he gives them the exact notes to write down. My daughter is fascinated with being in public school and all the other kids and I doubt she'll come back to homeschooling. So sad!

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

This has been my experience this year too (although DD attends a combined middle/high school). She's got straight As in classes where she previously rec'd Bs from me. There are so many participation points that make up the difference and very little content mastery is required.

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How is it possible that a student who completed precalculus, trigonometry and calculus at his public high school and got As in all three courses takes the college math placement test and scores in the 6th percentile, placing into remedial algebra (not even college algebra)??? What on earth is wrong with those schools?

 

ETA: And no, the student did not just have a bad day on placement test day. He proceeded to struggle in algebra and is currently failing trigonometry. 

 

Had someone fail remedial algebra last semester after telling me the entire semester that s/he did not belong there because s/he had taken calculus. 

 

There was some patchy knowledge of a few topics which manifested as a refusal to work the problems in the way that were being taught in class that would best set them up for success in the future. For example, this student refused to solve quadratic equations by any method other than the quadratic formula, which resulted in rather serious issues when trying to solve x^3 - x^2 = 0, which this person was unable to do. There was no ability to work with fractions other than by punching them into a calculator, which led to the expected problems with working with rational expressions.

 

sigh 

 

The biggest issue imo is that they've been systematically lied to throughout their education, being told that they were learning math when what they were really learning was how to recognize a few specific types of problems and punch buttons on a calculator to get a number out. 

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I've got an adult coming to my house this weekend for tutoring after admittedly cheating throughout high school and doing just 'OK' in pre-algebra. The individual 'just wanted to know how to do polynomials' for a college entrance test. Umm, no.

Edited by Sneezyone
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Ugh, although it doesn't surprise me.

 

I know there were high school classes where we weren't prepared for college, even though on paper, we'd done well. But to pass calculus and then place into remedial algebra is really depressing!

 

Well, at least by homeschooling, I won't do any worse for my kids. And probably better.

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How is it possible that a student who completed precalculus, trigonometry and calculus at his public high school and got As in all three courses takes the college math placement test and scores in the 6th percentile, placing into remedial algebra (not even college algebra)??? What on earth is wrong with those schools? 

 

With a score that low, my first thought would be wondering who he sat next to during these classes or how well did the teacher police for cell phones?

 

A few years back we had a young lady I caught cheating in a College Alg class (on a test).  Once all the dust had settled, it turns out she knew very, very little math and certainly not to the level to be in that class.  Many teachers really don't pay attention openly telling me it only hurts them (the student) if they opt for that route.  They're correct in a way, but it's also the school letting the youngster down considerably.

 

When kids memorize math, they also hit a wall later on and mixed tests are where it tends to show up, but this really sounds like your student didn't even memorize much.

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Every semester, I'd shake my head about this sort of thing when I was at the local community college. Straight A's in high school and failing developmental math. I always dreaded Excel because at least half the class had no clue on order of operations and couldn't read a basic word problem to make a formula in Excel. I know that we all have strengths and weaknesses in life, but this was a required course for all majors at the community college and at the majority of 4-year schools in my state. It was possible to pass the course without passing the Excel module, but it was tough if they didn't do well otherwise.

 

Once a student apologized for getting a "C" in my class. He had straight A's in high school and took a number of honors classes and AP's. But he confessed that he was very disappointed in his education because his first semester performance was far less than he had hoped for. He partially blamed the public high school. They didn't teach him how to handle a textbook and study for a test the way that is expected in college.

 

I'll note of course that some of the homeschooled kids I taught were in the same boat. Thankfully some of them were able to recover, graduate, and transfer to well-known schools. I currently have two former students at American University. One got a "D" and one barely got a "C" from me. Clearly they learned from their mistakes!

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Once a student apologized for getting a "C" in my class. He had straight A's in high school and took a number of honors classes and AP's. But he confessed that he was very disappointed in his education because his first semester performance was far less than he had hoped for. He partially blamed the public high school. They didn't teach him how to handle a textbook and study for a test the way that is expected in college.

 

Now I can relate to this, and it does not have to be the school's fault. I consider my high school education  very solid and truly learned a lot - but the one thing I did not learn was how to meet a challenge, because I found school very easy. It was not until college that I encountered material in physics that I did not understand immediately, and I thought that meant I was stupid. I did not know what to do - just spent huge amounts of time going over notes etc which, of course, did not make any difference. Reading for ten hours something you don't understand won't make you understand.

I failed my first physics exam and was on the verge of dropping out. Then, at the end of the first semester, I figured out how to study: work with multiple books in the library, join a study group. From  that day on, straight As.

In my case, the school was good and my foundation was solid. It was just never challenging. That is the main reason I am homeschooling my gifted kids.

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I suspect many are masters of multiple choice and not of math. 

 

 

 

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And when there is an issue or some struggle this is SO MUCH EASIER to deal with now than when I was a young student.  If a student doesn't get something and makes no headway in that direction I assume either they are lazy, not used to dealing with a challenge, very short on time, or who knows (naturally lousy at a particular subject?).  If I didn't understand something years ago and couldn't figure it out in my book or through my notes there weren't easy options for help.  I MIGHT find some book in the library.  I might get a couple of questions answered by going to see the prof (who often had very limited office hours).  Now with the Internet...wow.  You can find videos, websites, forums, special calculators, etc.  It's fantastic.  Even some of the textbooks come with extra stuff like video lectures, quizzing apps, etc. 

 

I feel old saying stuff like this, but kids these days don't know how great they have it!!

 

 

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How is it possible that a student who completed precalculus, trigonometry and calculus at his public high school and got As in all three courses takes the college math placement test and scores in the 6th percentile, placing into remedial algebra (not even college algebra)??? What on earth is wrong with those schools?

 

ETA: And no, the student did not just have a bad day on placement test day. He proceeded to struggle in algebra and is currently failing trigonometry. 

 

This scenario could definitely happen in my neck of the woods:

 

1. The new teaching method requires that the kids "discover" the concepts on their own in groups.  The teachers no longer provide direct instruction and the textbooks are so poorly written that a student can not use the textbook to teach himself.

 

2. Students now take group tests, so a big part of their grade is dependent upon the other kids in their group.

 

The schools in my area are all using the same textbooks.  My tutoring business has exploded as a result.  The math instruction in our schools is really pathetic.  I have more than one friend who has moved her kids to private school as a result (at the tune of $25K+ per kid per year)

 

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This scenario could definitely happen in my neck of the woods:

 

1. The new teaching method requires that the kids "discover" the concepts on their own in groups.  The teachers no longer provide direct instruction and the textbooks are so poorly written that a student can not use the textbook to teach himself.

 

2. Students now take group tests, so a big part of their grade is dependent upon the other kids in their group.

 

The schools in my area are all using the same textbooks.  My tutoring business has exploded as a result.  The math instruction in our schools is really pathetic.  I have more than one friend who has moved her kids to private school as a result (at the tune of $25K+ per kid per year)

 

 

This is bizarre stuff. 

 

I tried an on-line course through Plato for pre-calc.  It was the high school version (I found a good deal).  It was so stupid that I cancelled it after a day.  The first thing it did was give me a one line explanation of a function.  Ok.  Then it told me to write (in words) a one paragraph scenario to go along with a given function.  (Three paragraphs for three problems.)  What the blarp?!  HOW am I supposed to have understood it to that level after a one line explanation?! 

 

My son is using Plato for his CC pre-calc course and it is nothing like that.  I thought it would be similar.  Nope. 

 

I get the reasoning behind the assignment, but I don't think the explanation (without an sort of practice) was enough to make that assignment doable.

 

NOW I could do it.  I found something else that worked well for me.  It wasn't a high school course though. 

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I would think the person learned it just well enough to pass the test, but the concepts hadn't sunk in.  That's how I made it through alg I, II, and geometry in school.  I hated learning math, was bright enough to remember just enough to pass the test, then promptly forgot everything.  

 

 

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I would think the person learned it just well enough to pass the test, but the concepts hadn't sunk in.  That's how I made it through alg I, II, and geometry in school.  I hated learning math, was bright enough to remember just enough to pass the test, then promptly forgot everything.  

 

And I remember doing this myself.  Learn, cram, ace test, dump info to make room for new, then rinse and repeat.

 

I think part of the problem is trying to do it all with students.  With my own kid, I don't try to have him learn massive amounts of content for every single subject.  That's just not going to happen and is a complete waste of time IMO.

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Now I can relate to this, and it does not have to be the school's fault. I consider my high school education  very solid and truly learned a lot - but the one thing I did not learn was how to meet a challenge, because I found school very easy. It was not until college that I encountered material in physics that I did not understand immediately, and I thought that meant I was stupid. I did not know what to do - just spent huge amounts of time going over notes etc which, of course, did not make any difference. Reading for ten hours something you don't understand won't make you understand.

I failed my first physics exam and was on the verge of dropping out. Then, at the end of the first semester, I figured out how to study: work with multiple books in the library, join a study group. From  that day on, straight As.

In my case, the school was good and my foundation was solid. It was just never challenging. That is the main reason I am homeschooling my gifted kids.

 

If you are saying that a student sliding through school without being challenged is not the school's fault, actually, I disagree with this.  Public school teachers and administrators go on and on and on and on about how they need to "meet the needs of every student," particularly during their (ceaseless) requests for ever more money.  In most places, though, if a student meets expectations -however low they may be - the school is done.  (I say most places because I think that in some densely populated, wealthy districts public schools function as de facto elite private schools.)  It is my opinion, however, that "meeting the needs of every student" includes ALL students, even the ones on the right side of the bell curve.  If a student is not being challenged, then I think the school is failing to meet his needs.  Period.

 

Having experienced our local public schools, I tell people that I sum it up thusly:  Public school.  The relentless pursuit of mediocrity.

 

Again, thank you for the thread, OP.  This is (obviously) a hot button for me.  It feels good to vent a bit; thanks for the opportunity!

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I suspect many are masters of multiple choice and not of math. 

 

This is what I was thinking.

 

I was surprised when I learned that the Geometry math final at one of our local schools was multiple choice, with added question for extra credit.

 

I was also surprised when studying the notes for ACT prep, that often the quickest way to 'solve' a problem does not involve calculations at all.  It's just a process of elimination that one can truly memorize without knowing how to actually solve the problem.

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The biggest issue imo is that they've been systematically lied to throughout their education, being told that they were learning math when what they were really learning was how to recognize a few specific types of problems and punch buttons on a calculator to get a number out. 

 

I think this sums the issue up precisely.

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If you are saying that a student sliding through school without being challenged is not the school's fault, actually, I disagree with this.  Public school teachers and administrators go on and on and on and on about how they need to "meet the needs of every student," particularly during their (ceaseless) requests for ever more money.  In most places, though, if a student meets expectations -however low they may be - the school is done.  (I say most places because I think that in some densely populated, wealthy districts public schools function as de facto elite private schools.)  It is my opinion, however, that "meeting the needs of every student" includes ALL students, even the ones on the right side of the bell curve.  If a student is not being challenged, then I think the school is failing to meet his needs.  Period.

 

Having experienced our local public schools, I tell people that I sum it up thusly:  Public school.  The relentless pursuit of mediocrity.

 

Well - there are limits to what any school can possibly deliver.

I did not go to school in this country, and we had pretty strong tracking by ability. I was tracked by selection after 2nd grade into a special school. So, the general pursuit of mediocrity was not the issue. (There is still tracking in my home country; the system is very different from the US)

 

But even with strong selection, schools not in large cities cannot meet the needs of profoundly gifted students.

ETA: My DD was not just taking, but tutoring ,calculus based physics at the university at age 15. How can a small town school give such a student an adequate challenge? (In a large city, you have enough critical numbers to form a magnet school of profoundly gifted students.)

Edited by regentrude
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Well - there are limits to what any school can possibly deliver.

I did not go to school in this country, and we had pretty strong tracking by ability. I was tracked by selection after 2nd grade into a special school. So, the general pursuit of mediocrity was not the issue. (There is still tracking in my home country; the system is very different from the US)

 

But even with strong selection, schools not in large cities cannot meet the needs of profoundly gifted students.

 

Ah.  I see your point; meeting the needs of the profoundly gifted is, of course, going to be individually challenging (although I also believe that the public schools should at least try; meeting student needs is their mandate.).  I think we were talking about different things.  My issue is with their failure to even attempt to meet the needs of any bright students; once the student meets what are largely minimal goals, the school goes no farther.  For smart kids, meeting extremely low expectations can be done with a minimum of effort or thought.  So they breeze through with A grades and no understanding. 

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Well - there are limits to what any school can possibly deliver.

I did not go to school in this country, and we had pretty strong tracking by ability. I was tracked by selection after 2nd grade into a special school. So, the general pursuit of mediocrity was not the issue. (There is still tracking in my home country; the system is very different from the US)

 

But even with strong selection, schools not in large cities cannot meet the needs of profoundly gifted students.

ETA: My DD was not just taking, but tutoring ,calculus based physics at the university at age 15. How can a small town school give such a student an adequate challenge? (In a large city, you have enough critical numbers to form a magnet school of profoundly gifted students.)

 

Honestly, the same way many of us do here:  the internet.  To the extent they do meet the needs of the brighter students, that's what already happens here in high school.  There's really no reason why it could not be done with younger students, as well.  Except that it would take effort and require outside-the-box thinking, two qualities not generally associated with bureaucracies.

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Well - there are limits to what any school can possibly deliver.

I did not go to school in this country, and we had pretty strong tracking by ability. I was tracked by selection after 2nd grade into a special school. So, the general pursuit of mediocrity was not the issue. (There is still tracking in my home country; the system is very different from the US)

 

But even with strong selection, schools not in large cities cannot meet the needs of profoundly gifted students.

ETA: My DD was not just taking, but tutoring ,calculus based physics at the university at age 15. How can a small town school give such a student an adequate challenge? (In a large city, you have enough critical numbers to form a magnet school of profoundly gifted students.)

 

While I agree with you, what I would like to see PS doing with severely asynchronous students is funding online classes so that at least the student can have one or two subjects in which they are actually challenged. I think that a student who's learned how to work hard and study in some area can often transfer that work ethic to other classes, but if the classes are uniformly easy, the issues you mentioned really come into play. I would think the AOPS classes would be suitable for mathematically talented students. 

 

When my uncle was in high school, they paid for him to take correspondence classes from a very well-regarded professor in his area of interest -- that would also be reasonable. 

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This scenario could definitely happen in my neck of the woods:

 

1. The new teaching method requires that the kids "discover" the concepts on their own in groups. The teachers no longer provide direct instruction and the textbooks are so poorly written that a student can not use the textbook to teach himself.

 

2. Students now take group tests, so a big part of their grade is dependent upon the other kids in their group.

 

The schools in my area are all using the same textbooks. My tutoring business has exploded as a result. The math instruction in our schools is really pathetic. I have more than one friend who has moved her kids to private school as a result (at the tune of $25K+ per kid per year)

 

What the *bleep* is a "group test"???

 

This does not compute in my head.

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PS are failing kids at both ends of the bell curve. And the worst part for our society is that it depends where you live. Rich areas (think houses starting at $1 million) have high schools that look very, very different from schools a short drive away. My dd2 started high school this year in a regular sort of high school, not the best in the district, but not the worst. She has a 504 plan for dyslexia and processing issues and was placed in all regular classes. She has straight As with only a little effort mostly because she does every assignment and I help her in math. 

It is my belief that high schools are looking toward the top 30 % and offering AP, DE and other things because those are the kids who make the numbers look good. Or they are high schools with the Lake Wobegon effect, everyone takes AP classes. The rest are given the worst or newest teachers, passed through, given credit recovery, and not encouraged to step out of the track. My own gifted kid I homeschooled. Dd2 wants to be in school, it is probably the best thing for her socially. But...it is not a real education. It is just not.

 

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What the *bleep* is a "group test"???

 

This does not compute in my head.

 

Something that lets the teacher have the kids who actually get it pull up the grades of the others who don't so that they can pretend they passed. In most cases kids are deliberately assigned so that you have one clever kid per group. They justify this because "Oh, they learn so much by explaining it to the other kids", but yeah. 

 

It's exactly as bad as you think it is. 

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What the *bleep* is a "group test"???

 

This does not compute in my head.

The kids don't sit at individual desks in math class - they sit at tables with 4 or 5 other kids.  The teacher gives them a problem to work on to "discover" the concepts.  When it is time to take a test, the teacher gives each table a test.  The kids submit one test per table.  The kids get to decide whose answer the group is going to choose to use for each question.  Everyone at that table gets the same grade because only one test is graded. 

 

The first time I heard of this happening, I thought my student was exaggerating.  Since, then,however, I have heard the exact same feedback from multiple students and parents in different school districts to know that this scenario is not an exaggeration of what is going on. (These are middle school and high school classes)

 

It is aggravating to the parents of some of my students because many times at the beginning of the year, the other kids choose "the popular kids's" answers to the questions rather than give a more quiet student the chance to prove that her answers are the correct ones.  The group eventually begins listening to the less popular student once they realize that the popular kid doesn't have the correct answers, but everyone's grades suffer until the group realizes who to rely on for the correct answer.

 

The teachers are frustrated, but they have no say.  One friend who pulled her son out of our public school did so after a parent teacher conference.  The math teacher told her that he was not permitted to provide direct instruction - that the kids had to discover the concepts on their own.  It is pathetic what is going on in some of our classrooms.  Those who can afford private school are pulling their kids out of the public school or are hiring tutors.  I am working 20+ hours a week and am turning away business.  I have families that booked me for the entire school year to work with their kids once a week to teach them math.  It is crazy.

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The teachers are frustrated, but they have no say.  One friend who pulled her son out of our public school did so after a parent teacher conference.  The math teacher told her that he was not permitted to provide direct instruction - that the kids had to discover the concepts on their own.  It is pathetic what is going on in some of our classrooms.  Those who can afford private school are pulling their kids out of the public school or are hiring tutors.  I am working 20+ hours a week and am turning away business.  I have families that booked me for the entire school year to work with their kids once a week to teach them math.  It is crazy.

 

There are times when I've seriously considered just quitting my job to do math tutoring. There's definitely a market, and if the PS keeps doing this sort of stuff there'll continue to be one!

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Every semester, I'd shake my head about this sort of thing when I was at the local community college. Straight A's in high school and failing developmental math. I always dreaded Excel because at least half the class had no clue on order of operations and couldn't read a basic word problem to make a formula in Excel. I know that we all have strengths and weaknesses in life, but this was a required course for all majors at the community college and at the majority of 4-year schools in my state. It was possible to pass the course without passing the Excel module, but it was tough if they didn't do well otherwise.

 

Once a student apologized for getting a "C" in my class. He had straight A's in high school and took a number of honors classes and AP's. But he confessed that he was very disappointed in his education because his first semester performance was far less than he had hoped for. He partially blamed the public high school. They didn't teach him how to handle a textbook and study for a test the way that is expected in college.

 

I'll note of course that some of the homeschooled kids I taught were in the same boat. Thankfully some of them were able to recover, graduate, and transfer to well-known schools. I currently have two former students at American University. One got a "D" and one barely got a "C" from me. Clearly they learned from their mistakes!

 

 

PS are failing kids at both ends of the bell curve. And the worst part for our society is that it depends where you live. Rich areas (think houses starting at $1 million) have high schools that look very, very different from schools a short drive away. My dd2 started high school this year in a regular sort of high school, not the best in the district, but not the worst. She has a 504 plan for dyslexia and processing issues and was placed in all regular classes. She has straight As with only a little effort mostly because she does every assignment and I help her in math. 

It is my belief that high schools are looking toward the top 30 % and offering AP, DE and other things because those are the kids who make the numbers look good. Or they are high schools with the Lake Wobegon effect, everyone takes AP classes. The rest are given the worst or newest teachers, passed through, given credit recovery, and not encouraged to step out of the track. My own gifted kid I homeschooled. Dd2 wants to be in school, it is probably the best thing for her socially. But...it is not a real education. It is just not.

 

Ahhh, the Lake Wobegon effect.  Maybe that's what's going on with my story: This seems like a good place to share something that has really been bugging me for a couple of weeks now. There's a girl in dd's theater group, she's a junior. At rehearsal she's always talking about how she has homework for her AP classes - AP history & AP English. When one of the younger kids asks what AP is, she says "they're the classes for the smart kids." I took her statements at face value initially, but noted that she had a lot of trouble pronouncing 3+ syllable words in her script and her reading was very choppy, not fluent.  She announced one night "I don't read."  I'm thinking - whoah.  How are you getting through AP English and History without reading? A couple of days later we're in the car and grades come up. She says she must be doing great because she's getting Bs in her AP classes. Then she says she's really getting Cs, but they count as Bs because they are college level classes.   :confused1:

 

I think it's so sad.  Here is a kid who is being told that she is doing "great" in "college level work" but who is pulling a C in AP classes, doesn't read, and clearly doesn't have a clue that yeah, reading is something you have to do in college.  She's being sold a bill of goods that she is doing college level work, and is ready for college.  I can't imagine that she'll score very well on the AP exams, but more importantly, how will she handle a full load of college classes if she's been skating by in what she thinks is college level classes without reading?  She honestly thinks that she is "one of the smart kids."  

 

Part of me wants to take her aside and giver her a firm, gentle reality check. The rest of me realizes I should mind my own business. But it's really sad.

Edited by Chrysalis Academy
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I graduated high school with an international baccalaureate degree from a school in Europe. High school courses were HARD--and teachers graded exams and assignments using IB test standards (i.e. you didn't get an A unless your work merited top marks on the actual IB exams). My GPA was not fabulous.

 

College in the US, by comparison, was a breeze. It was interesting to me to hear my friends talk about what a huge step up from high school it was.

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One difference of course with the American system is that GPA is a big factor in college acceptance and scholarship opportunities. In much of Europe, high school grades have little impact on college admission--it is scores on the end of high school exams that matter most, so neither high schools nor students are well served by grade inflation--they need to be prepared for the exams, full stop.

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What the *bleep* is a "group test"???

 

About the same as a group project.  It is a way of "supporting" the struggling and/or apathetic students by "challenging" the more capable ones.  

 

Just dangle a good grade in front of your top performers if they can single-handedly produce A-level work while carrying the rest of their group members on their backs and using their ventriloquist/forging skills to make it look like it was a group effort in order to earn subjective "team cooperation" points.

 

The less capable students obviously have their own important role to play.  They earn their high grade by staying out of the way and not dragging down the teachers or team leaders by trying to "help" or "understand" or "learn" anything.

 

See.  It's win-win!!  I'm frankly surprised that we don't convert a lot more things to group tests.  Group driving exams...because if one person in every group of 4 can pass the driving test that's good enough.  Group SATs...it would probably cut down on cheating.  Group building inspections...because it is simply unrealistic trying to ensure all the houses meet minimal safety standards.

 

Wendy

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About the same as a group project.  It is a way of "supporting" the struggling and/or apathetic students by "challenging" the more capable ones.  

 

Just dangle a good grade in front of your top performers if they can single-handedly produce A-level work while carrying the rest of their group members on their backs and using their ventriloquist/forging skills to make it look like it was a group effort in order to earn subjective "team cooperation" points.

 

The less capable students obviously have their own important role to play.  They earn their high grade by staying out of the way and not dragging down the teachers or team leaders by trying to "help" or "understand" or "learn" anything.

 

See.  It's win-win!!  I'm frankly surprised that we don't convert a lot more things to group tests.  Group driving exams...because if one person in every group of 4 can pass the driving test that's good enough.  Group SATs...it would probably cut down on cheating.  Group building inspections...because it is simply unrealistic trying to ensure all the houses meet minimal safety standards.

 

Wendy

 

Umm, Wendy?  Have you ever worked for a government agency?  Something sadly similar takes place it that environment, as well.  As me how I know. :glare:

 

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I had a friend who was teaching high school math.  She was required to let students retake exams until the last day of the semester; that is retake the SAME exam as many times as they wanted until they got the grade they wanted.  (She was not even allowed to change the numbers in the problems). 

 

At the local public school many students have over a 100% average in math; they get extra credit for things like bringing white board markers to the teacher and not using all of their bathroom passes.  Who knows how they are doing on actual math problems!

 

 

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I'll add my own little data point to the conversation.  

 

On my MathCounts team this year, I was excited to have a bunch of new members.  I got two 8th grade girls, both of whom are already taking precalculus.  Wow!  I'm going to have some really strong students on the team this year, I thought.  (You know where this is going.)

 

I also got a couple of 6th grade boys, both of whom have some experience with competition math.  I don't think they are otherwise accelerated.

 

I gave the students a placement test to see who gets to participate in the Team Round, and my 6th graders easily and by a large margin beat my "advanced" 8th graders.  Not. even. close.  

 

One gal dropped out entirely.  To her credit, the other girl is staying on, though I know she must struggle.  I'm just glad she's getting the problem solving practice she needs to be successful later.  

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I homeschool my kids but have foster children who are in public school. Wow, what a difference I see.  And our local public high school is even rated as an "A+ school".  I checked out a book from the library recently that gave a perspective of American public schools vs. other countries.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0061NT61Y/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1  Its called "The Smartest Kids in the World and How they Got There".  I highly recommend it!

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Well - there are limits to what any school can possibly deliver.

I did not go to school in this country, and we had pretty strong tracking by ability. I was tracked by selection after 2nd grade into a special school. So, the general pursuit of mediocrity was not the issue. (There is still tracking in my home country; the system is very different from the US)

 

But even with strong selection, schools not in large cities cannot meet the needs of profoundly gifted students.

ETA: My DD was not just taking, but tutoring ,calculus based physics at the university at age 15. How can a small town school give such a student an adequate challenge? (In a large city, you have enough critical numbers to form a magnet school of profoundly gifted students.)

 

This is one reason why I'm glad my kids are growing up with the internet.  They have been able to study Latin, dabble in German, take online Computer Science courses and do high level history and international affairs seminars online.  We have not lived in areas where the homeschool community would support academics on this level.  

 

Even when I was willing to teach AP US Government in coop, there was only one other student willing to work at that level.  The rest of the class was not attempting AP level and one couldn't be bothered to do the class prep at all.

 

ETA:  I don't mean it to sound as if I think every kid should be doing AP.  It was merely something that related to struggling to find critical numbers of students working at a particular level. 

Edited by Sebastian (a lady)
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The super here has no problem explaining the board's mindset: fair is equal. No one shall be offered more then basic. Those wanting to score high can acquire prep books and do what they wish, but the school wont be contributing to elitism. It not easy to have a 100 average, lots of points lost to artwork and attendance issues.

 

Regarding the math classes...were they CC, where its basic only and easy to memorize your way to a C since the tests resemble the hw? And being CC, the guidance counselor and principal probably told the parents a partial truth, that no one can take credit away from the student, he is all set to go on to the next course, failing to mention that he will be repeating if he doesn't go to CC and the state U uses SAT scores and Regents grades (here) as a placement aid, not just automatically placing students in next course.

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About the same as a group project.  It is a way of "supporting" the struggling and/or apathetic students by "challenging" the more capable ones.  

 

Just dangle a good grade in front of your top performers if they can single-handedly produce A-level work while carrying the rest of their group members on their backs and using their ventriloquist/forging skills to make it look like it was a group effort in order to earn subjective "team cooperation" points.

 

The less capable students obviously have their own important role to play.  They earn their high grade by staying out of the way and not dragging down the teachers or team leaders by trying to "help" or "understand" or "learn" anything.

 

See.  It's win-win!!  I'm frankly surprised that we don't convert a lot more things to group tests.  Group driving exams...because if one person in every group of 4 can pass the driving test that's good enough.  Group SATs...it would probably cut down on cheating.  Group building inspections...because it is simply unrealistic trying to ensure all the houses meet minimal safety standards.

 

Wendy

 

LOL  what!  I think you are kidding, but I can't be sure. 

 

 

 

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