Saturday, May 14, 2011

I Hope This Doesn't happen

I loved all three of my calculus classes this year.  It was a rough year.  The single period was a killer and quite a few of the kids didn't have the background to be in the class.  (They never took pre-calculus and were mid 80 students in trigonometry.)  They only got to take the class because it was the only option for a fourth year of math.  As far as I am concerned, it was a great decision for all of us.  As I've said before, and I will say again, doing well on the AP exam is great but it is not the end all.

It seems like a million years since I first met these kids in September and I made the decision to cut out the double period to create the extra class.  I started with kids who didn't like adding 2 + 3 without their calculators to kids who without batting an eye go from the ln (x - 2) = 0 to x = 3.  (Apologies to non math readers.) I started with kids who liked to memorize and reguritagate to kids who can think through a problem and arrive at an answer or, at the very least, follow another person's solution.  In other words, I watched these kids grow into mature, thinking college ready students.

Anyway, I am digressing from the reason I started this post.  This morning, at tutoring, a boy told me he overheard a conversation in the math office.  The teachers were saying they wanted the cut off grade for entry into the AP class next year to be a 95.  I hope and pray this is not going to happen.  Sure the class would be easier to teach if all the kids in it were scholars.  And, there definitely would be no need for the double period and Saturday tutoring.  But a 95?  That grade would have eliminated over 95% of the kids in the class!  Even a 90 would have cut off many of them.  Often, the strongest calculus students are the ones who struggle a little in the prerequisite courses.  This term, my best student would not be where he is now if this ridiculous standard was in place last year.

There will be students in my class who will not do well on Thursday's AP exam.  That does not matter.  Statistics aren't important.  What matters is that the kids took the challenge and kept going, even when the going got tough.  They might not win this one battle, but they are prepared for the next one.  Their minds have been opened and college will be easier.  I hope this boy heard wrong.  I hope the class will not be so restricted next year.  I hate the thought of future children being denied the opportunity these kids have had.

1 comment:

Kim said...

THe AP Calculus teacher at my school cherrypicks her students and only picks the ones she knows will pass. She has a 100% pass rate, but only about 10% of the kids in precalc get to take AP Calculus.

I teach AP Environmental. I take on a lot of kids that others wouldn't let in an AP class. My pass rate last year was about 55% (beginner's luck!), but I'm not sure how many of my kids this year passed. I don't have my eye on my pass rate. I just want the kids to learn something about the environment and learn how to think to prepare them for college.