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WSJ: "A Way for High-School Students to Boost Their GPAs: Take Classes at Other High Schools"

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Replies to: WSJ: "A Way for High-School Students to Boost Their GPAs: Take Classes at Other High Schools"

  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 6164 replies35 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 6,199 Senior Member
    This thread, like so many others, illustrates the uneven playing field.

    This has also gotten me thinking about school assigned summer work. My D's HS had a ton of summer homework every year, starting for incoming freshmen. Most classes had work, from problem sets in math, to assigned reading, and papers. For rising Sophomores, summer work included extensive ACT prep. Summer work was graded, there were tests on the materials, and everything counted towards first quarter GPA. Students were expected to hit the ground running from the first day of school. Outside courses weren't accepted and frankly, I'm not sure there would have been time!

    In retrospect, this is the school itself structuring "getting ahead."

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  • hebegebehebegebe 2657 replies37 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,694 Senior Member
    edited June 19
    This all works out in the end.

    The talented students that can do fine without the summer preparation have extra time during the summer to take a summer job, do research, or attend sports camps. Or even, I dare say, have fun.

    Another way to think about this is that, given two students that will find the class somewhat difficult, preparing over the summer rewards the student who is willing to work harder to do well in the upcoming class. There are worse things than that to worry about.
    edited June 19
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  • InfoQuestMomInfoQuestMom 257 replies3 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 260 Junior Member
    @momofsenior1 Is your school public or private? Our school only has summer work for certain, not all, AP courses.
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  • InfoQuestMomInfoQuestMom 257 replies3 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 260 Junior Member
    @3kids2dogs Are all sports at your school competitive? Here some are and some not, thankfully. Here, if you want to make the soccer, volleyball, football, gymnastics, baseball, softball or basketball team, you pretty much need to be a club player. Swim, wrestling, waterpolo, track and meet, cross country, field hockey, tennis, golf, cheer, and lacrosse are either no cut or easier to get in.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 6164 replies35 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 6,199 Senior Member
    @InfoQuestMom - Private parochial.

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  • 3kids2dogs3kids2dogs 65 replies12 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 77 Junior Member
    @InfoQuestMom - no, some sports are not as competitive, but if you want to make one of the sports that is competitive, you either better be immensely talented, playing club, or training hard on your own.
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2280 replies5 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,285 Senior Member
    edited June 19
    "The high school must set a policy that all summer courses must be reported. Perhaps they can set up an agreement with the private school where the students are taking these courses."

    These private schools are not just local schools, many colleges have summer programs where you can take all sorts of classes - ones for college credit, ones to prep you for your next year in h.s., creative writing, math, etc. There's no way a school can ask for all these classes to be reported, even assuming that it's legal to do so. And how would you determine which class to report, is a 7 week college class in Chemistry not allowed but a three week class on literature and essay writing ok, even though the latter is advertised as helping with APLAC or APLIT?

    "Maybe there should be some sort of form that parents have to sign before the start of each school year, with a legally vetted warning about the consequences of committing fraud."

    There is absolutely now way parents would sign this, and even if they did, no way can this could be enforced. Fraud is a loaded word, legally or academically, what laws are people breaking by saying that they took no class in the summer but did take one?
    edited June 19
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  • CardinalBobcatCardinalBobcat 150 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 151 Junior Member
    I sincerely wish @hebegebe was correct in writing:

    "This all works out in the end. The talented students that can do fine without the summer preparation have extra time during the summer to take a summer job, do research, or attend sports camps. Or even, I dare say, have fun. Another way to think about this is that, given two students that will find the class somewhat difficult, preparing over the summer rewards the student who is willing to work harder to do well in the upcoming class. There are worse things than that to worry about."

    Instead, this is what I've seen:

    "There is also a tipping point -- if enough students are coming into a class having already mastered the material, the teacher's expectations may change, potentially further negatively impacting students entering the course without the extensive prior preparation."

    And from @InfoQuestMom, who speaks the truth and whose comment we casually dismiss at our (children's) peril:

    "Your observations about the tipping point is spot on. That’s how you end up with high rates of teen depression, burnout and even suicide in certain areas. No matter how hard you try, the bar keeps going up and the expectations insanely unhealthy."

    Indeed. It's one thing if a dedicated student decides to prepare in advance for a tough upcoming class, but that's not what's being described here. These off-the-books summer classes are real, and business is thriving in many parts of the country.

    Moreover, in my prior experience, the kids filling up these classes were typically among the most talented (and financially privileged.) Many weren't doing it in order to survive the tough upcoming course; they were pre-taking the class so that they could earn an A in a tough class with very little effort during the academic year. This, in turn, allowed them to put that time and energy toward other challenging courses, sports, research internships, etc. It literally freed up hours out of each day, as well as providing a GPA and class rank boost.

    Even as I write this, I know someone, somewhere, is reading it and saying, "Hey, I didn't know this was a thing... that's a great idea and I'll be sure my child does it." Anything and everything to get ahead. Sigh.

    Teen depression, burnout, and even suicide were (and are) very real problems in the particular geographical area I'm referencing, and in other communities across the nation. It's the question of that tipping point, after which students are left to marinate 24/7 in this hyper-competitive environment and can't even stop to breathe during the summer.

    Our kids are counting on us to understand this and to protect them from it, IMHO.
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  • collegemom9collegemom9 759 replies24 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 783 Member
    @brantly The colleges giving a list of names to the high school would violate FERPA.
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  • VickiSoCalVickiSoCal 3353 replies33 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,386 Senior Member
    My kid was accelerated in math and doing fine right up to pre-calc honors her freshman year. When I had a discussion with the teacher about some seeming gaps in her knowledge between A2 the previous year and the class she was in, he told me the other 5 freshmen in the class were all fine. It was only my daughter struggling. I was confused by this. These six kids had been on this track together for years and had all been fine. So I saw another mom and asked how her son was doing and she said he was fine, but she was really glad he took a prep class over the summer. Came to find out every kid on that track had taken a prep class except mine.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 76488 replies665 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 77,153 Senior Member
    edited June 19
    VickiSoCal wrote:
    My kid was accelerated in math and doing fine right up to pre-calc honors her freshman year. When I had a discussion with the teacher about some seeming gaps in her knowledge between A2 the previous year and the class she was in, he told me the other 5 freshmen in the class were all fine. It was only my daughter struggling.

    Precalculus in 9th grade is 3 grade levels ahead. This seems like an example of inappropriate over-acceleration if the students either struggle or need additional summer prep courses.

    It should be a warning sign if the high school has many students 2+ grade levels ahead in math who do not consider all high school math an easy A subject (up to calculus BC with an easy 5 on the AP test) without unusual amounts of studying or any extra summer preparation.
    edited June 19
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  • TQfromtheUTQfromtheU 1540 replies17 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,557 Senior Member
    Our public gifted middle school offered math prep for the students moving from 5th to 6th grade and for those moving from 8th to 9th. Nominal charge and I think they had scholarships available. A high school math teacher offered free math prep on several Saturdays since something is changing about the way they teach next year. (I don't know the details.)

    I consider tutoring and outside courses to be the same as SAT test prep. It is available one way or another and it all still depends on the student to want to learn, to show up prepared and to retain the information. You don't punish children who have parents with the ability to teach them engineering, math, or science and I'm in favor of education all around.

    Regarding the initial point, I can't imagine my children wanting to take a course twice, no matter what.
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  • VickiSoCalVickiSoCal 3353 replies33 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,386 Senior Member
    edited June 19
    The district had 5 to 6 kids on this track a year out of a district population of about 2500 kids per grade level. Up to that point the ones in her cohort were all fine. I am unsure why the other 5 families all jumped on the prep bandwagon at once but I suspect it is related to an ethnic grapevine I am out of the loop on.
    It was also the first year of Algebra 2 common core and there were some gaps for all kids going from A2 to PreCalc. It all worked out in the end she ended up taking a year off of math and now loves it again amd wants to major in it.
    It is my understanding the district is no longer allowing any acceleration beyond A1 in 8th grade. They say it is incompatible with the new curriculum.
    edited June 19
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  • SwimmingDadSwimmingDad 923 replies11 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 934 Member
    There is a private boys school in the next town the actually aligns their summer "enrichment" classes to the curriculum in our town. Some families in our town have their kids either attend that or have a tutor pre-teach the class to them. (The school year wrapped up yesterday. Earlier this afternoon I was at the town library and it was packed with kids being tutored.)

    Our town for the most part does not allow acceleration but I am hearing it happen more and more. In almost all cases these kids also have a private tutor during the school year in each class. And yeah, I'm sure they are doing this because they have a "passion" for the subject. *sarcasm*
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 76488 replies665 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 77,153 Senior Member
    VickiSoCal wrote:
    It is my understanding the district is no longer allowing any acceleration beyond A1 in 8th grade. They say it is incompatible with the new curriculum.

    Doubt incompatibility with new curriculum is the real reason. The real reason is probably resource constraints.

    If they allow +2 or greater math acceleration, then the district needs to offer geometry in middle schools for the small number of students with +2 or greater math acceleration. If the district allows +3 or greater math acceleration, then it needs to offer algebra 2 in middle school and algebra 1 in elementary school. Since the number of students in question may be very small (only 5 in your district), it may be hard to justify that as a resource priority when competing against other resource priorities.

    At the other end, with +2 or greater math acceleration, the district needs to pay local colleges for college courses for the students to take beyond calculus BC.
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