• Joanne 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."

334 views6 comments