Saturday, January 14, 2006

Graduation Requirements

Okay, I've finished The Power of Their Ideas and really think you should all consider reading it. Here's the last excerpt I'm going to share:

No school should have graduation requirements that cannot be met by every professional working in the school, and therefore these requirements shall be phased in only as fast as the school can bring its staff up to the standards it requires of its students.
Karl's Corollary: These requirements should also have to be met by all school board members, state legislators, the Governor, and in our case - of course - all members of the CCHE.

So 21c learners, I'm curious, how many of you successfully completed four years of math through Pre-Calculus in high school? Well, maybe the better question is, how many of you think that that should be a graduation requirement for AHS? If so, would you be willing to volunteer to teach Trig and Pre-Calc?


  1. I guess it is only fitting that a math teacher be the first to comment. NO! I do not think our district should require trigonometry and pre-calculus as a graduation requirement. A graduation requirement should reflect the minimum requirement, and I am OK with the idea that students should complete three years of mathematics. That might be algebra, geometry, and advanced algebra; but it might mean topics, pre-algebra, and algebra. And, how about a probability and statistics class?

  2. I would totally agree with the fact that schools should require the same of teachers as it does for students. As students, it does occassionally seem unfair taht we have to learn more and more than previous generations. It is of course, necessary to keep up with the quickly changing world. But it is frustrating for students when our parents can no longer help us do our math homework in seventh grade. Our school changes graduation requirements each year and each year it feels like we're being pushed far beyond where we need to be. For students who do not excel in school or simply don't learn quickly it becomes a problem. I'm not sure if I really responded to the real point of your post, but it is true. Students are taking classes which we dislike or do poorly in simply because we must do it to graduate or get into college. It makes for classes with unenthused students and a bad learning environment.

  3. I did take four years of math in high school. I did so badly in trig that I repeated it as a freshman in college and did well when I actually tried. I would think that if the course is tied to your teaching...Like algebra is to chemistry then you should be able to teach both. I am not sure that English teachers, no offense intended, need to take and be ready to teach trig. I think that there are other courses that students should take, like Barbara said Stats, that would help them make better sense of the ideas that they deal with daily. I think the goal of the school system should be to make the students ready to be "whole-life" learners and not specialists. So I agree with Barb that there should be minimum reqirement since not everyone will need to be prepared for differential equations.

    As for the comments by Molly, I agree to some length. The graduation requirements seem to change frequently. I am not sure that this is a bad idea but I think that we need to keep in mind that there are many different individuals in a school. These individuals all find different things interesting and I am happy about that. I think that when a class is filled with unenthused students it is not caused by the graduation requirements but by the design of the curriculm.

    One last thing, if there are parents who cannot help their students with their work at least they should be willing to find the resources that will benefit the student. Or, maybe, they never learned the material themselves and should look at the materials.

  4. I also completed four years of math in high school and haven't taken a math class since. I was even in the advance math track ( still have to brag about that). Seriously thoug, I know I couldn't teach Trig to anyone. Heck , my teacher seemed to struggle at times. I think it would be a waste to expect teachers to be proficient in all areas of high school, and like Brian said, it is better for us to prepare these kids to be successful in all areas of life not just one.

  5. I completed four years of math (including Honors Calculus, thank you very much), and I couldn't even tell you what calculus is. And I don't care what it is, either. There are certainly several classes I took in high school that do not inform my past, current, or future life in any specific way. However, I do think that students need to develop a strong "cultural literacy" that includes content and skills from a broad spectrum of courses. At some point in their high school careers, however, I think we need to start letting go and let our students' passions drive their course choices. I learned this summer that in England, high school students are quite focused on the content area of their choice, and though some might not agree with how narrow this focus is, I think it's something to consider.

  6. I opted out of Calculus at Heritage after Carol (German - prior to Black prior to Blechschmidt) saw me recover from an outstanding 17% on the first exam of second semester Pre-Calc or Analytical Geometry. (I did fight back to an A by the end - as long as we are bragging a bit.) However, I chose to pursue Stats at HHS, Calc at Oregon, and tons of graduate Statistics at Wisconsin. And as often as my Mom, a tutor, asks for help, I have no clue how to teach others what I know when it comes to math. I do balance a mean checkbook and can still help my 2nd grader with math.

    But my outlook on math in schools comes more from my wife, a person who struggled in math in high school, avoided it in college, found a career in the banking and mortgage industries, and then learned how to be a math student when it mattered for her career. She looks around at successful people in her industry that weren't great students, many who are not college graduates (and some who never attended college at all), and wonders why the state is choosing to set potentialy successful people up for failure in order to meet a college entrance requirement that has little to do with the real world most will still enter - regardless of their math (or English or History) performance at age 18.

  7. I think Brad has an excellent point. I have a Bachelor of Science (requiring 2 full years of math and science) and am endorsed to teach middle school math, but I feel I have really never used those skills. I think it is important to keep challenging our students, but just by piling on more requirements, doesn't make them smarter...or better at math.

  8. I went up to Trig in high school and hated every minute of it! I also don't remember a bit of what I learned. I was one of the students that knew how to play the game really well and got a B+ because of that, not because I knew the material. I knew that a career in math was not where I was headed. However, my first teaching job was teaching, you guessed it, Math at the middle school level. Not hard stuff but do youknow that I finally started to understand it? I was finally making sense to me. A 23 year old finally understanding the rationale behind fractions and other 6th grade curricula! I can only hope I delivered in a way my students could undertand it.

    My husband on the other hand is a math whiz! He, however, did not go further than geometry in high school. He learned his math through hands on by taking vocational classes in high school. He fell in love with it! He can answer almost any math questions that comes his way.

    I guess opposites to attract!