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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

If the students don't care ...

Desperately trying to get failing students to a diploma, counselors are putting kids who can't pass Integrated Math 1 (ninth grade) into Integrated Math 2, writes math teacher Darren Miller in a rant on his Right on the Left Coast blog.

The theory is that maybe "credit recovery" will work its magic.


But students who haven't passed IM 1 don't have the skills or knowledge to pass IM 2, math teachers argue. Why set them up to fail?


If students don't care about their own learning, counselors and teachers can't lower standards fast enough to save them, Miller writes.

We've changed how we teach -- guide on the side, not sage on the stage; stop giving so much homework; change from traditional courses to integrated courses; focus on race; do group learning -- and scores were flat. They started dropping again after the 'rona shutdowns. We kept focusing on the teacher input, to no avail. Not focusing on the student side of the equation seems like a serious omission, doesn't it?

His school offers before-school tutoring, lunchtime tutoring and after-school tutoring, plus "credit recovery." A Foundations class for students way below grade level didn't help students pass IM 1. Neither did a Support class students took at the same time as IM 1. Before the school switched to integrated math, there was a pre-algebra course that didn't help students pass Algebra 1. Neither did splitting Algebra 1 into a two-year course.

"I constantly seek out ways I can do my job better," writes Miller. But it's"a student's responsibility to learn something and demonstrate that learning."


"Unless we're just going to pass out diplomas like candy, and take away what little meaning they have left, we have to accept that some will fail," he concludes. "Constantly looking for new ways for adults to lower standards in order to get kids to pass and graduate merely makes it easier for kids to put in less effort and to learn less."

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6 Comments


Guest
Sep 25, 2022

Every move made to Guide on the Side, No homework, Group Learning, Talk and Turn or Credit Recovery is a statement that Teaching Doesn't Matter, only Learning matters, and the failure is the student's problem.


He got it exactly backwards. Students fail because their teachers are not required to teach. The students who pass are learning the material elsewhere from someone else teaching it to ; the students who have no one else to teach them drown.


Want kids to pass? Require instruction to be taught. Require teaching. Then once students are being taught, you can require them to also learn. But only a teacher who teaches has any moral authority to demand such in response.


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Guest
Sep 21, 2022

Should have students help proofread the lead:

“Desperately trying to get failing students to a diploma, counselors are putting kids can't pass Integrated Math 1 (ninth grade) into”

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Joanne Jacobs
Joanne Jacobs
Sep 21, 2022
Replying to

Thanks. I've added the missing "who."

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Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
Sep 20, 2022

Most of those kids should graduate at ninth grade to vocational education & training, and seek out apprenticeships, while those who qualify as students for selective high schools, having passed four years of integrated mathematics in the lower secondary section of their basic schools, should study additional precalculus with teachers like Mr Miller: that should lead to happier outcomes for everyone, outcomes being prevented by poor counselling persuading misdirected administrators.

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Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
Sep 21, 2022
Replying to

In China and other East Asian nations, Integrated Mathematics includes intermediate algebra and basic trigonometry, which the Chinese finish by the end of ninth grade; if they haven't learned it successfully by that time, they can continue to study the parts of the subject that are relevant to their trade during the days of the week they attend their upper secondary vocational centres, as part of dual systems like those in northern Europe.

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