Unprepared in SAT prep class

A straight A student in Los Angeles schools, Andrea Lopez went to a SAT prep workshop and realized she was way behind students from other high schools. Will my best be good enough? she asks in LA Youth. She couldn’t do a single math problem. Other students knew vocabulary that she’d never learned, such as “spurious” and “cogent.” After years of being the best student in class, she felt stupid.

Her advisory teacher at Social Justice Humanitas, an academy within a larger high school, explained that her fears were reasonable.

Most of our parents, he pointed out, can’t help us with school because they didn’t finish high school or don’t speak English. Or they have to work all day to put food on the table. He was right. My parents stopped helping me with homework around fourth grade.

. . . “Most of those kids will have it easier than you guys because their parents are able to provide them with what they need,” he said.

“Wouldn’t it be better to know that you put in a strong effort to get to that dream college?” he continued. “That you made it work because you were determined and you understood everything you learned in school and you didn’t just wing it?”

Later, Lopez talked to Social Justice Humanitas graduates at UC Irvine, UC San Diego and San Diego State, who said they’d taken community college classes in high school, performed community service and joined clubs “to show colleges that they were well rounded.”

“I know we can make it if we are determined to work our hardest,” Lopez concludes.

With straight A’s, she’ll make it to state universities, but she’ll need reading, writing and some math skills to earn a degree. I’m a big fan of hard work, but I’d feel better about her chances if she’d talked to her high school math teacher about how to solve those math (advanced algebra?) problems. What can she do to learn it so she’ll have options in college? And her English teacher may be able to help too.

This girl has met every expectation in school. Now, with one year of high school to go, she learns the expectations were too low. She got a pep talk. She needs a study plan.

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  1. This student will have a very poor outcome in any four year college or university system (she’ll never make it into a UC system school, unless she takes a boatload of remedial coursework at a community college).

    This just sounds like a great deal of grade inflation, and self-esteem malarky run rampant, due to the fact if she couldn’t do a SINGLE math problem on the preparation examination, she won’t be able to do any on the actual SAT examination.

    At least she is bright enough to realize the education she got isn’t cutting it, but I wonder if she realizes that her high school education has been a lie?


  2. This student will have a very poor outcome in any four year college or university system (she’ll never make it into a UC system school, unless she takes a boatload of remedial coursework at a community college).

    Wrong. She’ll make it in. The UC defies the law and practices affirmative action.

    And she’ll probably make it out, since the UC does everything but genuflect to get URMs to graduate.

    And every employer she’ll ever meet will know it.

    Fortunately, the employers practice affirmative action, too.

  3. Some smart guy once said something about the “soft bigotry of low expectations” (yes, I know who it was), and young Andrea is the target of such bigotry.

    • I’m not so sure; something doesn’t add up for me. Her essay is very well written, and she’s now a published author. From this empirical evidence, I’d say she has reasons to thank her teachers. I think she’ll be ok.

  4. Matt Fanny says:

    Look at this student’s reaction when she is thrown out of her comfort zone- she locks up. She didn’t ask for help, and by her own admission, she “half-assed” the second half of the workshop. What is going to happen in college classes?
    I understand that she has not been given the same quality of education as others, but her reactions upon realizing this do not bode well at all for her future. Also, she mentions other students advocating taking student loans, because “you’ll make enough to pay them off” after graduating. I would be wary of that advice, as well.

  5. I understand her anger and frustration, but I don’t think she should be able to sue the Los Angeles, CA school district. Despite their incompetence, why couldn’t she take the initiative and do some learning on her own?