[IMPORTANT NOTE updated 12/16/19 at 9:30 AM] After receiving a reply from the Aragon math department on 2/14 which I mentioned in the first Comment following this article, I met with Assistant Principal Berggren the morning of 2/15.
I initially posted a second brief Comment below regarding that meeting on the 15th and have now posted a detailed meeting report in the third Comment below. This report includes additional comments emailed by Mr. Berggren to me after he reviewed my draft report.
In a nutshell, the percent of students who transferred out of the accelerated math class last year is much smaller than the number reported to me, but that incorrect information to parents originated from the school, so the reports that I received passed along that incorrect number! That said my meeting report includes many important issues that Aragon wants students and parents to be aware of, so I strongly encourage readers to read it in its entirety. Thank you!
In response to my recent article about class selection for the 2019-2020 school year (deadline is coming up soon), I’m hearing reports that the drop rates in Aragon’s accelerated math classes are alarming high.
Note that students are supposedly prequalified before being allowed to take these classes, so we aren’t just talking about the average high school student hitting a math wall here!!
Can anyone provide precise figures, either publicly to me or anonymously?? I will try to get this information from the school directly, but I am not one of their favorite people these days… Parents of current students are more likely to get a direct response than I am unfortunately.
If parents are signing their teens up for these accelerated classes and these reports are true, then they should be aware of this information!!
I am also concerned that siphoning off the top students into these accelerated classes may be lowering the expectations in the traditional Algebra 2 classes.
As I stated in my recent article, based on my direct experience with students I think these compressed classes are a bad idea for the significant majority of students. If students *just have to be* accelerated, it makes more sense to take the full classes in summer school or CSM rather than the compressed classes.
The compressed classes follow this approximate schedule:
Geometry (first semester) / Algebra 2 (second semester)
More Algebra 2 (third semester) / Precalculus (fourth semester)
Precalculus is a VERY challenging full year regular class at Aragon; doing it in half the time and then going on to Calculus (especially jumping to Calculus BC) strikes me as pure insanity…
On the other hand, I am also concerned that, since top students are being diverted into the accelerated classes, the teachers may have lowered expectations for those in the regular Algebra 2 classes.
When I first started tutoring seven years ago, the district was using a more traditional textbook from Addison-Wesley or Houghton Mifflin/Holt McDougal (I forget the publisher, but think it may have been the latter). Later they switched to CPM.
My earlier Algebra 2 students would bring home assignments from the textbook that included some challenging problems. Recent Algebra 2 students seem to be using mainly worksheets, with little use of textbooks. They often complete their homework assignments in class, and do not seem challenged. Thus there is a danger that those pushing their students into the accelerated track are also making it more difficult for parents whose teens are good in math but do NOT want to be on this crazy hamster wheel…
I would appreciate your comments on both of these issues in the Comments section below if you care to react publicly. Otherwise, please feel free to contact me privately.