SMUHSD Board of Trustees Science Curriculum Agenda Item on Thursday, March 7th

After a wait of almost a year, the Next Generation Science Standards agenda item will finally be discussed at this coming Thursday’s (3/7/19) Board of Trustees meeting.  A link to the entire meeting agenda is here.  I have been told that the NGSS item will come up around 8:00 PM, but this timing is only approximate.  The District will give the following PowerPoint presentation, and I have been granted six minutes to respond.

I just sent the following email to the SMUHSD administration and the Board of Trustees in preparation for this event:

Dear Board Members,
I am pleased that we will finally address the NGSS agenda item this coming Thursday, March 7th.  I have reviewed Dr. Kempkey’s and Mr. Simmons’ presentation.  Dr. Skelly has informed me that I will have six minutes to reply following it.  I have specific comments that I will make in regards to the District’s presentation, but also request that you all be aware of the following.
Since the SMUHSD science curriculum is of paramount importance, since it has been over two months since I posted the following article summarizing my concerns, and since I have waited for almost a year to the day for this forum to occur, I sincerely hope that you will do me the courtesy of rereading ahead of the meeting this article from my blog and also the Education Week article that is referenced therein.
As I noted near the end of my article, I am NOT seeking the quixotic goal of overturning the District’s adoption of the NGSS standards, but I do have serious reservations about the adoption process and want to implement better public notification in the future before such major changes are adopted.  Please refer to my meeting objectives stated at the end of my article starting with the text “Despite looking into this for a year now, it is not clear to me how involved the Board of Trustees really was in the NGSS adoption decision, and I hope the meeting sheds some light on that question.”
Thank you.  I’m looking forward to seeing you Thursday evening.
Sincerely,
Dr. David Kristofferson

How to Get Into Harvard – II

Finally, as my last note in this series of articles before students sign up for next year’s classes, I would like to remind everyone of an article I posted here back on March 4th, 2017.  Newer high school students have probably not seen this article:

How to Get in to Harvard

It references an article written by another author who is a very intelligent, talented, and driven Chinese-American who “graduated from Harvard University summa cum laude and earned two perfect scores on the SAT (1600 in 2004, and 2400 in 2014) and a perfect score on the ACT.”  He says, “In high school, I got into every school I applied to, including Harvard, Princeton, MIT, and Stanford.”  He later joined an M.D.-Ph.D. program at Harvard Medical School and MIT.

His perspective runs counter to a lot of conventional high school counseling, but I found it extremely interesting, believable, and compelling.

As with anything worthwhile, his article is a lengthy read.  I list a few critical points in my synopsis which I urge you to read first before tackling his detailed text.

Senior Dilemma: What to Take – AP Statistics or Calculus BC?

This question arose in a NextDoor discussion the other day. Students who will major in science, particularly the physical sciences, or who will be required to take calculus at their prospective college, should stick with calculus as I explain below.

Continue reading “Senior Dilemma: What to Take – AP Statistics or Calculus BC?”

Aragon Accelerated Math Class Drop Rate Controversy Has Been Resolved

I am posting this short note to alert followers of my blog that the controversy regarding the reported high drop rate in the Aragon accelerated math classes has been resolved.  Additional information from a meeting I held on 2/15/19 with Assistant Principal Ron Berggren has been added to my earlier article Alarmingly High Drop Rate for Aragon’s Accelerated Math Classes??  Please be sure to read it carefully as it bears on a number of important educational issues.

Alarmingly High Drop Rate for Aragon’s Accelerated Math Classes??

The controversy first reported to me and expressed in the article title above has been resolved after I met with Assistant Principal Berggren. Please be sure to read my meeting report in the third Comment following this article.

Continue reading “Alarmingly High Drop Rate for Aragon’s Accelerated Math Classes??”

2019-2020 High School Class Sign-up Time – Please Read This Article First!

Each year I receive calls for help part way into the new school year from parents whose children signed up for too many AP classes. I usually can not help these students because my schedule is already full, so I wrote the following article to try to stave off these problems to the extent possible. This article is an update for 2019 of my experience with AP Science and Math classes. Most of my students attend Aragon, but the cautionary notes in this article should also be considered by those attending other SMUHSD schools.

Continue reading “2019-2020 High School Class Sign-up Time – Please Read This Article First!”

NGSS Impact on the 2018 SMUHSD AP Physics 1 Scores?

There were 95 more AP Physics 1 exams taken in the SMUHSD in 2018 than in 2017. This was a 31% increase, larger than in any other subject area that attracts a significant number of AP test takers. Of these 95 additional test takers, 47 or virtually half did not pass the test (score of 1 or 2) when a passing grade requires only about 40% correct answers! This may be due in part to counseling advice given Aragon students following the change of the regular physics program to the new NGSS standards.

Continue reading “NGSS Impact on the 2018 SMUHSD AP Physics 1 Scores?”