California students are lagging in math and science.
Even in her college prep biology class, students come less and less prepared each year, (Concord High teacher Ellen) Fasman said.
“They’re every bit as bright as they’ve ever been,” said Fasman, who has taught for 16 years. However, they increasingly come hampered by smaller vocabularies, lacking knowledge of basic cell biology and unable to deal with fractions, she said.
“Their math skills are rather poor,” Fasman said. “When we do the metric system at the beginning of the year, it’s a killer for them. When we get into genetics, sometimes it’s hard for them, understanding ratios.”
California is scrambling to hire qualified math and science teachers as baby-boomer teachers retire. Of course teachers with high-demand skills don’t get any more pay than other teachers.
Update: With union approval, Los Angeles is paying a hefty bonus to recruit new math, science and special education teachers.
Here’s a weird story from West Virginia: In advanced biology at Sissonville High, grades are determined primarily by the leaf project not by the final. Students collect and classify leaves. A straight-A student turned in her project late, lost credit and got a B for the class. She’d been out of town on a school-approved field trip. Her family has filed a lawsuit. The weird part is the high-credit leaf project in honors bio. I did a leaf project in third grade. Possibly second grade.