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I care about a teen (17) who has certainly been failed by the "system."  

The teen's only earned math credit is 1st Semester Algebra 1 (grade was a D). The teen failed Algebra 1, 2nd semester twice--9th and 10th grade, failed chemistry (reports it was too much math), and failed Geometry. There is significant trauma background and disrupted school history. The teen reports being unable to multiply or divide.

If you had direct input into school related decisions for this teen (homeschooling is NOT an option), what would you suggest? Funds are very limited, and testing is likely only available through the school system. I can recommend anything, and I think I will be listened to, but the final decisions will not be mine. Teen is determined to try to earn a diploma. 

Edited by sbgrace
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You can get a test from letsgolearn, ADAM K7 for $25. https://shop.letsgolearn.com/shop/store/product/adam-k-7-adaptive-diagnostic-assessment-of-mathematics/

It used to be linked to remediation Khan videos.

You can use Saxon and Singapore math placement tests to find gaps.

I would suggest motivated student learn multiplication and division, work through Kahn academy starting at grade 1, work through Lial's basic college math, used copies of older editions are cheap, start at $7.

https://www.amazon.com/Basic-College-Mathematics-Margaret-Lial/dp/0321557123/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=lial+basic+college+math+8th&qid=1596309256&sr=8-3

I would also look into a free or cheap tutor to help, there are some teens offering free math tutoring now, for example:

https://www.kare11.com/article/news/education/teens-start-free-tutoring-service-to-help-students-learning-from-home/89-7832ab46-2a98-4937-a939-f95d5e8d04f6

You can self drill multiplication and division with apps and flashcards.

Math Mammoth might be another cheap way to build up missing math skills.

CLEP natural sciences may be a way to get a science credit, there are a lot of online and self study options, IMO one of the easier CLEP tests.

 

Edited by ElizabethB
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My local school has several different algebra teachers--there is one that will give extra help and pass any senior in Algebra (state requirement to graduate) that is trying and turning in homework, even if they only do part of it and can't figure out all of it. All seniors that have previously failed Algebra are recommended to go into this class.

I would talk to kids in the school/guidance counselors and see if there is a good math option for Algebra 1, second semester, or a substitute that will count.

Some states have an easier type of math that can count for graduation, it is state by state number of credits and type that are required.

Also, does the school have some kind of a basic math class the student can take 1st semester?

Edited by ElizabethB
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Posted (edited)

I really don't know if there is an underlying disability or it's just the effect of disrupted education/life circumstance.

Can a school system generally test for dyscalcula? I did have the teen's care request testing. I do not know how helpful that will be, and I also don't know how long it is going to take the school to do it, especially given the time of year and COVID mess. 

I'm thinking if it's "just" a matter of the background, and not also disability, the teen is probably motivated enough, and with enough support now, to work to catch up. I will look into those suggestions. I can purchase Lial's BCM for the teen, try to find some materials for the base skills, etc.

What is that program that has really basic decimals/percents, then basic Algebra in packet like form? I can't remember it's name. I wonder if that will feel more doable. This teen really lacks confidence in math.  

If there is an underlying disability, and there may be, would we fight for adjusted graduation expectations or try to find a  way to remediate? 

I will see what the new school system has to offer. There was very little in the teen's last school--I was able to advocate for a "math lab" to be added for extra help--they put that in place of chemistry 2nd Semester. There wasn't enough time to see if that would have helped. 

I will be attending a meeting with the new school, teen's carers, etc. soon. I want to go in knowing what to ask for. 

 

Edited by sbgrace
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If there is math disability, the consensus on twitter and the learning challenges board seems to be Ronit Bird.

http://www.ronitbird.com

For learning multiplication facts, I like the 60 second sweep. Have one blank and one with answers, go through each line, do a few lines a day until mastered; for example, do first 2 lines for a week or two until you can do them quick, then add in 3rd line, look up answers for ones that aren't known.

https://sunnybraeavenueelementary.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/60-second-sweep.pdf

You say "two 2's are 4, two 3's are 6, etc." so you can say them real fast, you don't say the word multiply. You can also skip the word are.

One new line a week is a good pace for younger students, an older student may tolerate 2 lines a week.

There is an online version but it counts down from 60 seconds, it stressed me out; it didn't stress out my children, though, they laughed and told me the answers when I froze up.

Edited by ElizabethB
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I like ALEKS for catching up math students. It's $20/month, but imo easier to use and quicker than Khan Academy. It gives an assessment for whatever course you pick, say algebra, and then tells you which topics have been mastered, which need more practice, which you haven't learned. You then choose from a list of topics that you are ready to learn - so there is some choice, but it doesn't let you pick topics you are completely unprepared for. Whoever is listed as the teacher gets weekly reports on how much time spent, how many topics covered, etc, and you can also look this up anytime. This is usually the parent if used at home, but it could be you if you're willing and they'd just as soon not deal with it. 

There are many, many teens who don't their math facts; this alone wouldn't make me assume LD, but I'd keep the appointment for school evaluation for sure. Ideally, he would shore up those math facts and earlier concepts before moving on, but that can be hard to do in the time crunch of b&m school. He has enough credits to be a junior this year otherwise, or will have have 3 more years no matter what?  What math does he need to graduate? If algebra 2 is required, he's going to need 3 years unless he does summer school. How much time before fall semester starts? 

If his school is online this year, that might increase the possibility of them offering a catch-up math or more guided algebra if they don't usually. It would be great if you can find out what's on offer and help him make a decision. 

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I would switch to a calculator.  At 17, it is time to get functional, and success breeds success. 

If Algebra 2nd semester and geometry are NOT required for graduation, then get a consumer math text and use a calculator to answer the questions. 

If algebra 2nd semester and geometry are required for graduation, then I would work all summer to prep, and then work for a D. This means: find out what is the minimum required to pass the class, then only do those types of problems. Abandon all problems that are harder so that you have double the time to master the easiest work to just earn a D. I have done this with students so they can just pass. 

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The teen doesn’t understand what multiplying and dividing mean conceptually? Or doesn’t have the basics memorized? Or can’t do more than single digit multiplication or division? Or some? Or all of those?

Can the teen add and subtract? 

 

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What grade will he be in the fall?

Yes, the school can test for a math disability (though they might not call it dyscalculia), and I would agree that he has been failed by the system, if no teachers have referred him for disability testing with that history.

Each state has it's own graduation requirements and guidelines for alternate ways to earn a diploma, so it's hard to say whether he can earn the needed credits by the typical graduation time. With an IEP, he can stay in high school through age 21, if he is willing, but that all needs to be worked out by the IEP team. You can educate yourself on the IEP process by reading through the information on your state's department of education website, and I also recommend this book https://www.amazon.com/Complete-IEP-Guide-Advocate-Special/dp/1413323855/ref=sr_1_2?crid=1MSPJ2QXUTC7S&dchild=1&keywords=nolo+iep+guide&qid=1596775160&sprefix=NOLO+IEP%2Caps%2C178&sr=8-2

It's great to go into the meeting with an idea of what he needs, but most schools will not design a program just for one student (despite the name Individualized Education Plan). Instead, they will place him in the classes that they already run that are best suited to his needs and then provide accommodations and extra help.

My DS16 has a math disability that makes it hard (perhaps impossible) to learn high school level math. The school tried him in their 9th grade pre-algebra type class but is moving him down to the special ed math class for 10th grade. In that class (called the resource room), the teachers customize things to each student's progress, but they don't, for example, switch to using particular math programs that I might recommend to them; they have their own system for running that class.

So you can and should advocate, but you might find that the school doesn't offer exactly what he needs, customized the way that would best suit him (they are not legally required to do that; legally they only have to offer an "appropriate" education, not an ideal one). They do need to help figure out a path toward graduation for him and create an effective IEP. Some states have ways to earn a diploma with nontraditional ways, like earning work credits and credentials, when students can't meet the academic standards.

Unless it is a very tiny school without many options, hopefully there will be a science class that is a better placement. My DS will not need to take chemistry. His science sequence will be physical science, biology (which will be hard but doesn't have the math component), and environmental science. He only has to have three years of science. In his science classes, there will always be an intervention teacher who can modify his work requirements, so that he will not have to do exactly what is expected of the class as a whole. I think many or most public high schools have this system now, called co-teaching.

We did look at several high schools when we were moving, to make sure that we picked one that could help DS, and one high school did tell us that they just don't have intervention specialists in their sciences classes (we did not pick that district). Schools really are legally required to meet the needs as determined by the IEP team, but since most members of the IEP team (other than parents) work for the school, sometimes parents are not able to get the team to agree about what is needed.

It's really great that you are helping. You can also look into whether this student/family can have a trained advocate attend the IEP meetings. Some advocates work for pay, but there may be some that will do it pro bono.

Edited by Storygirl
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Posted (edited)

Thank you for all the thoughts. I feel more prepared. 

I do have a plan to try for remediation too, and I'm thankful for this board for that. 

The teen wants, and I am advocating for, an alternative school option. I need to find out if that changes the math and science requirements the state has set. I'm thinking there must be alternative paths that the previous schools did not offer. 

I am going to look into the possibility of getting a trained advocate involved. I hadn't thought of that. 

Edited by sbgrace
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48 minutes ago, sbgrace said:

The teen wants, and I am advocating for, an alternative school option. I need to find out if that changes the math and science requirements the state has set. I'm thinking there must be alternative paths that the previous schools did not offer. 

Just make sure to thoroughly investigate each option, and whether it leads to a diploma or a certificate of completion. Super common for schools to use wording like, "Yes, these classes will allow him to finish high school" when they mean finish with a certificate, not a diploma. 

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52 minutes ago, sbgrace said:

Thank you for all the thoughts. I feel more prepared. 

I do have a plan to try for remediation too, and I'm thankful for this board for that. 

The teen wants, and I am advocating for, an alternative school option. I need to find out if that changes the math and science requirements the state has set. I'm thinking there must be alternative paths that the previous schools did not offer. 

I am going to look into the possibility of getting a trained advocate involved. I hadn't thought of that. 

 

It may well depend on state rules.

Our state has regular diploma which requires 3 years of math at Algebra 1 and above.  But there’s a modified diploma that can have lower math requirements.

I asked about what he knows or understands, or can do, because situation can be very different if he has good conceptual math understanding but needs to be allowed to use calculator due to a problem with calculating or memorizing his multiplication tables, versus having missed some iMportant early steps where he may need to review everything from basic adding on and fill in holes (KhanAcademy is good for doing that reasonably quickly IME), versus someone needing to sit down with him and explain what is basically happening in processes like multiplication and division if that’s where he got lost.

IME (past math tutoring), it does not work to jump into math at grade level, or even at a few grades ago level if someone got lost a long time ago.  

Math builds on lower levels, so one has to go back to where the foundation is solid, or even to the very start of counting if need be, and go from there. 

I have had a now OOP Math made Simple type book that explains math from counting onwards and can be good for this—though oop is a problem and also print was small so not great for dyslexia etc. 

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Mathematics Made Simple: Sixth Edition https://www.amazon.com/dp/0767915380/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_sJxmFbVPHWB4Z

 

My excellent tutor book for picking up missed basics might possibly have been an older version of this book, in which case it seems to be available again.  The cover is not what it was, and I don’t see a look inside feature, so I am not positive. 

 

I also would recommend a used older copy (to keep price down) of Dave Ellis’s Becoming a Master Student

and possibly Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning https://www.amazon.com/dp/0674729013/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_GQxmFbEMQMCX2

for an umbrella approach to how to study and learn    

It may be not specifically a math problem he has but an ineffective approach to learning new things problem 

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If I were you, I would request in writing that a full evaluation by the school district if nothing has been done. If the child has been in the school system previously, I'd want to know what prior RTI attempts have been made. If the child qualifies for an IEP, that would automatically extend services to age 21, and it would allow for a fifth high school year or entrance into a credit recovery program or it would be evidence for vocational rehab services.

Depending on what the evaluation says, I'd go from there.  Where a kid is motivated to graduate, I think all efforts should be made to help that happen. I know our district and county offers a variety of services, but it takes asking and advocating and a bit of pushing.  Don't take the first no you here, feel free to appeal up and contact the SPED coordinator for the school and if you make no headway there, then contact the district personnel.  (I have personal experience here in being a PITA to get what I need. Be polite, but firm, and when in doubt, always put it into print.  They will want to call you to avoid a paper trail. I highly recommend letting calls go to voicemail, and responding by email. 

In the meantime, while you are waiting for the evals to be done, do the groundwork for vocational rehab (seeing what they need in terms of documentation to qualify) in addition to investigating the credit recovery programs.  If the child is part of the foster care system, there may also be additional resources available. If they have a CASA, I'd put a phone call out there so that you have additional advocacy weight behind you.

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Posted (edited)

Thank you all for the additional thoughts.  

It looks like I will be able to get a liason involved. I'm talking to her this week. 

The meeting keeps getting rescheduled. It was (re- re-scheduled) to be today--now pushed (again) to next week. Frustrating. 

I think I'll call the school and hope someone is available to talk to me today--maybe I can get some questions answered prior to the meeting.

On the positive side, I'll be even more prepared w/the information I have here. I am hoping the liason will also be in place and able to attend. 

 I so appreciate the ideas, experience, resources, and thoughts on the advocacy side you all have shared.

Thank you all!  I didn't expect so much help when I posted, and I really appreciate it. 

Edited by sbgrace
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  • 3 weeks later...

Have the student work through Lial's College Math with flash cards for multiplication facts.  It's geared toward older people who need to beef up their pre-algebra skills.  It sounds like the student has a poor foundation in arithmetic to have plotzed the first semester of Algebra 1.  After that, head for an Algebra 1 course.

Edited by Reefgazer
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