kitchen table math, the sequel: help desk redux - precalculus or statistics?

Monday, October 17, 2011

help desk redux - precalculus or statistics?

I don't know if any of you are around during the day, but if you are I would be grateful for a quick read on this issue.

C. is set to move to a different math class.

He was planning to move to "Stat Honors," which unfortunately is the only class that fits his schedule. (Otherwise, we would have had him move to AP Stat.)

The calculus teacher, whose class he is leaving, thinks he should move to precalculus instead.

That makes sense except for the fact that he took precalculus last year, ending the year with a B average. The only precalculus course available is a lower level course than the one he's already taken.

That raises the college transcript issue: how do college admissions officers interpret a transcript showing two consecutive years of precalculus, with the second year being a lower level course than the first?

I have no idea.

There's also the question of the teacher. We don't know the teacher of the precalculus class; we do know the teacher of the stats class. C. took geometry with her, and my friend D's son, who is a math kid, is taking his 2nd course with her now. We are confident that C. will learn the material she's teaching.

We don't know the precalculus teacher.

One last thing: Ed is strongly opposed to hiring any more tutors. Precalculus tutors around these parts charge $150/hour. If you need a tutor to get your kid through 24 weeks of precalculus, you're talking about another $3600 on top of tuition.

I'm flummoxed, and I guess we need to make this decision today --- any thoughts?

Thank you!


SATVerbalTutor. said...

I'd vote for the Stats. Even if his guidance counselor provides an explanation for the Precalc, I think the move to a class that's lower than one he took last year would raise some eyebrows among admissions officers. Stats would come off of more as a lateral move. It won't be an advantage anywhere, but unlike the Precalc, it doesn't risk flat-out disadvantaging him quite as much.

Catherine Johnson said...

THANK YOU - that's kinda what I thought - but I have NO idea ----

The stat course is definitely (more of) a lateral move ---

Allison said...

no no no
do not take the same course twice at this point.

go with the teacher you know!

Catherine Johnson said...

Thank you so much!!!!

I just talked to C; he's joining the Stat course.


(btw, that was my impulse - and that was C's impulse - but I just don't have the expertise to trust my impulse)

Somewhat by happenstance, I talked to DS this morning who says she's going to have her son take a pre-calculus course with C. -- which I think will make C. more amenable to taking precalculus at a community college next summer (can you take precalculus in one summer??)

DS's son is a math kid, but he had the same teacher last year.

This will work - as long as I can rustle something up for .... next semester or next summer.


Anonymous said...

Precalc in 10 weeks is definitely doable, especially for a kid who has seen a lot of the material previously.

Repeating precalc at a lower level would definitely look bad on a transcript. Repeating it at a community college not so bad.

Statistics is more useful than calculus to most people. It should be the standard path for math in high school.

Disclaimer: I didn't get any real statistics until I'd been a professor for about 15 years—neither math nor computer science degrees encouraged stats courses. This was really bad curriculum design, but is still quite common.

Hainish said...

If C's interests lie in history/social sciences, then a good stats course is a better bet than a bad calc course. Good for him!

Anonymous said...

1. He will not need calc in college or later.

2. There is no calc on the SAT

3. He doesn't seem to be motivated by math, other than to jump thru the hoop of college admission.

Why take calc?

ChemProf said...

I agree with all of the above -- stats makes more sense and will look better to admissions.

momof4 said...

Is there a possibility of taking a precalc class next semester at a CC or another local college? I know kids who have taken a CC class concurrent with HS, outside of any special program for HS kids. At least a couple of kids from my oldest's class elected to take calc at the CC instead of at HS (in that case, the CC class was easier)

Jen said...

I know the decision is already made, but I agree with all of the above. Stats now, precalc in the summer IF the teacher is good.

Most people...don't ever need calculus. But if you do need it, as a class, to fulfill something for college, there should be a good leveled calc class to take. It might take some asking around to advisors and other students to find out whose class to take, but it would be worth it.

Barry Garelick said...

Chris much bettah off!

Catherine Johnson said...

So C. has left the class -- will try to put up a short post about the new class -- but for now I'll just report that when C. told the calculus teacher he was leaving the class, the guy said: "You gotta do what you gotta do."

Yes, and I gotta pay for it.

This is the man who said "I am IT!" on back to school night.

Catherine Johnson said...

Actually, IT might be the right word.