Wednesday, May 05, 2010


Abbie dreamed of going to the prom since she was 5 years old, when she saw one of her television heroines getting ready for the big night. Now that Abbie is a high school senior, all she can think about is the beautiful new dress, her hair style and the fun she is going to have dancing and laughing with her friends all night.

Abbie attends a high school with very high strict standards and the kids were told loud and often that if they even failed one subject they would be denied admission to the prom. Abbie worked hard to avoid failure. She studied. She never missed a homework assignment and was never absent. Alas, trigonometry was not kind to her and no matter how she tried, she could not pass.

Abbie had a decision to make. She could continue taking math, go to tutoring and even if she could not pass, she could pick up skills she would need in college. Besides, Abbie has always been a come-from-behind student in math and she always passed in the end and did not expect trigonometry to be any different. Doing this risked her being banned from the prom. Her other choice was to drop trig (she did not need it for graduation), pass all her subjects and be assured admission to the prom.

Being a teenager does not always mean making the best decisions. Abbie followed her dream and dropped the trigonometry class. She's going to the prom. She sacrificed her future for the present, something many of us, not just teenagers do.

Why was Abbie forced to make this choice? I understand punishing kids who don't do the right thing, but punishing a kid who tried? To me, this is just wrong. Way back in time, when I was a teenager, kids failed. My best friend failed thegeometry regents although she worked harder than anyone I ever met. There are plenty of kids out there that just can't "get" it. These kids feel bad enough about their limitations and now we are topping off the hurt by taking away things they love. I know the reason behind this rule and it makes sense when you are dealing with some elements but a rule like this hurts our avearage students. It is time to rethink this consequence of failing even one subject.


Miss Eyre said...

I agree that this seems excessive. Even very diligent and bright students can have Achilles heels.

Elaine C. said...

... also, some kids just don't get it right away - it takes them longer to 'click' for some subjects.

I struggled SO much with math in HS. Now I have a college degree in it, and *teach* it. It just took me a little while to figure out how to look at it. I feel I'm a much better teacher because I struggled, too.