kitchen table math, the sequel: What ELSE Don't I Know?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

What ELSE Don't I Know?

My son informed me (while showing me his schedule for next year) that he thinks that two of the teachers asked for him in their class. He said that his English teacher from last year said she would do that. Is this common? Is this seniority-based? Of course it's better than asking to be kept out of their class, but... So what other things might I not know about?


SteveH said...

There is also the issue that 56 students signed up for AP Physics and the rumor is that the teacher is looking for any excuse to drop students because there will only be one class. So the big summer packet is a litmus or acceptance test. If you miss any of the summer online mandatory test deadlines (there are three), you will be dropped.

High school science is all screwed up because everyone is trying to skip the basic courses (including honors versions) and go directly to the AP versions. What do high school science teachers say about this? There are too many science courses.

Jim said...

Teachers trade kids like baseball players. I remember at the end of the school year saying, "I'll give you one Tommy for an Elise and and Jack. No....I won't take your Billy, but I will make a deal with Mr. Miller and he'll take Billy if you give me Susan and Jimmy and give him an option to take Sarah in the middle of the year."

Yes, seniority matters. There's no salary cap in professional education. The senior teachers are the Yankees, and the Junior teachers are the Cincinnati Reds. Senior teachers get first pick.

gasstationwithoutpumps said...

It's not that way everywhere. In many places the teachers have no say at all in who they teach.

momof4 said...

When my older kids were in HS in the DC suburbs, all APs had honors prereqs; honors was the top HS class and APs were college level. All sciences were double period, every day, and taught to serious college standards. The honors/AP math/sci track was so strong that I never heard of anyone applying to the math/sci magnet. I think the push to remove prereqs came from ANOTHER failure to distinguish between correlation and causation; because kids taking APs did better on XYZ measures, therefore APs caused that!!?? The idea that kids taking APs were inherently different, in ability, preparation and motivation was ignored. So, APs for everyone... even if you can't read or do math...

Genevieve said...

I think prereqs depends on the student body. I was in an AP program that was for only the top students in a mid-size district. While most students took a one year chemistry/physics class freshman year, it was also possible to go straight to the AP sequence (as I did when I moved into the district). AP Bio, then AP Chem and then AP Physics B. Classes were single period with regular afterschool labs (I have since heard that labs are on Saturday). Students did just fine.

On the other hand, I think programs that are only for the top students are also able to rest on their laurels because everyone does well. With the exception of Calculus, students rarely scored below a 3.

Anonymous said...

I have no say in what I teach or who I teach or criteria for selection... I am certified by UMDNJ and Syracuse University to teach their courses in HS. But the student body, or how many, or whether I will have those classes at all - I have no idea until about August 28th... The admins shuffle us around as they see fit, and if the need arises I can end up with regular or remedial science instead of honors and college-level. In higher level courses, I also cannot "drop" anyone, even if the student does not cut it. What's worse, if those who are enrolled, fail- I may be reprimanded.


SteveH said...

Verrrrry Interesting. Some yes and some no. It seems to me that requesting students would be difficult just from a scheduling standpoint.

As for the AP question, it also seems to be a scheduling issue unless you double up science classes by using one of your electives. Then again, they allow kids to go directly into AP Physics (B) and AP Chemistry without taking any prior physics or chemistry class. (That doesn't seem to be the case for biology.) It kind of waters down the meaning of AP, but what can you do? There aren't enough class slots in your four years of high school.

I want them to push the simple "Earth Science" required freshman course back to 8th grade so that kids can jump right in with biology. It's not a solution, but it would help.

cranberry said...

They probably have many more students interested in taking AP Bio than AP Chemistry or AP Physics (B).

I think some high schools allow kids to jump into AP courses because they believe colleges will be impressed by the number of APs. It also helps their ratings under the US News "best high school" system.

momof4 said...

The strongest honors/AP science sequence in the school I mentioned was:
- Honors Lab Science in freshman year (prereq for all sciences)
- Honors bio as sophomores, with honors chem for many
- Honors physics as juniors (with AP chem or AP bio for many - meaning 4 hours of science per day), honors pre-calc was co-req for AP chem
- AP physics BC as seniors (co-req was AP calc BC).

My kids took:
- honors lab sci
- honors bio plus honors chem
- honors physics plus AP chem
- AP physics
- the honors/AP math sequence
They also took 4 years of Spanish (honors 3,4,APlanguage,APlit), honors US history, honors world history and 2 APs - both took AP US, 1 took AP Euro and the other took AP government, plus 4 years of honors English (did not take AP English - didn't like teacher). This was pretty typical of the top end of the class, who took all academic classes at honors/AP level. Many more kids took all classes at honors level, with a few APs (not chem or physics). An unweighted (honors added .5, APs added 1.0)GPA of 3.0 was in the bottom half of the class.

BTW, the same teacher taught the honors and AP classes for each science, so there was only one AP section in each subject. There were 3 sections of AP calc, all BC. Graduating class was about 400