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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Two weeks ago I posted an article requesting more information about reports regarding an increasing number of freshmen and sophomore students at Aragon who are already enrolled in calculus. This is what I learned.
The day-to-day business of the SMUHSD goes on while a big question is shelved for over six months.
Each school year seems to bring a new set of intriguing questions.
This year Aragon apparently has a fairly large freshman class according to my tutoring students. As the school’s “best in the district” reputation spreads, it becomes increasingly popular, and everyone wants to transfer their child there. I am concerned that this is starting to stress the teaching staff.
Even more interesting to me is that, according to student reports, there are a significant number of freshmen and sophomores who are already enrolled in AP calculus. I wonder how they progressed so far, so fast. Russian School of Math?? How is this impacting older students in what are already challenging classes?
Finally I have been told that several of the math classes are full, and that students who bit off too much and tried to drop back from Calculus BC to AB found very few, if any, available spots for them. Meanwhile, I am getting the usual calls for help, but my schedule for this school year filled up as always by early June.
I am trying to get more detailed information on the items above, and have placed some calls. If any parents of Aragon students, or students themselves, can relate their experiences, either by contacting me privately using the Contact page on this website or via the public Comments section of this article, that would be greatly appreciated.
Note added early AM, 9/17/2018: As of now, this article has been read 176 times since it was posted on Saturday. The comments that I have received have all requested anonymity and this will be honored. I’d appreciate your help shedding light on the questions raised above and will write a follow-up soon. Thank you!
In the interim I would like to remind parents of two of my blog articles written some time ago that are still relevant:
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In this article I comment on Aragon’s regular and AP physics program. Continue reading “STEM Class Issues from the 2017-2018 Aragon School Year: Part 3 – Physics”
What educators know about the AP course system but are reluctant to tell parents.