Tuesday, September 18, 2018

An Observation On Progress Report Grades

It's "progress report time" at school, which means that we're required to post interim grades so parents and kids can see how they're doing in class.

Among other classes, I've taught pre-calculus (trig and analysis) for most of the 15+ years I've been at my current school.  When completing progress report grades, I noted what I thought was a lot of D's and F's in my pre-calculus class, so I looked up past years' information.  Sure enough, just as an example, last year I had only 1 D or F at the first progress report; this year I have 11. The contrast with other years is just as stark.

What happened?  What's changed?  I can't be sure, but this is the first year that pre-calculus students at my school had gone through so-called Integrated Math at our school as opposed to the Algebra 1-Geometry-Algebra 2 sequence.  I don't know if that's the cause or not, but it's certainly a likely explanation.

I'm going to keep my eyes open on this one.


John said...

Very interested in your thoughts on this integrated math. Our school district uses CPM(College Prepratory Mathematics). The topics seem kind of random and there are not many problems for homework. Kids have maybe 15 questions a week and most of them are review not on the current lesson. Looks like an effort to just get more kids through. I wonder how prepared they will be for calculus?

Darren said...

I did some work on CPM several years ago. It is one of the worst programs I can imagine.

Here's an example. CPM1, which was supposed to be at the Algebra 1 level, was (at the time) mostly 5th thru 7th grade California math standards, with a little Algebra 1 thrown in here and there. I would *not* use it at all, if given a choice.

Auntie Ann said...

I'm so glad both my kid's middle school and high school used a 1990 versions of Dolciani for Algebra #1, #2 and for Trig.

(It's also nice that the textbooks are before the biggerization of modern textbooks. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wdVw8lcYBc )

Ellen K said...

I'm seeing a similar trend in my AP Art History classes. Students are less likely now to meet deadlines and when they do, often work is incomplete or plagiarized. There doesn't seem to be much emphasis on quality. And please, do not get me started on the ability to analyze and discuss art at a college level. Instead of doing the reading, they rely on class presentations, which I have told them repeatedly only hits the high points. Our math and science teachers are seeing similar issues except for the top ten percent students.

ObieJuan said...

The chinese have a word for it - "chiku" (see the link)


There is no secret to being good at math and science. It's just hard work!! But rather than have our students do that, we throw new methods and standards against the wall and hope something sticks! We ignore research (do your own - you'll find that direct instruction is best), and we do "what feels good".

Math and science jobs pay well because not many are willing to do the hard work that comes with it.

PeggyU said...

I think that rather than push "integrated" math, a better approach would be to require students to take physics or another course where their math skills will be regularly applied.

Anonymous said...

We're seeing something similar in physics. Our school does Physics First (9th grade) and I can tell you it's not working very well. They're not getting a true physics class - just a watered down feel good version of Algebra 1. The students don't want to do the hard work either. In addition, inquiry based learning is being shoved down their throats when they lack the proper skills to come up with these ideas and relationships.
I write this on a Friday afternoon as I battle a massive headache from dealing with immature freshmen who didn't do their homework.