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Dealing with Frustrating High School Experiences


Replies to: Dealing with Frustrating High School Experiences

  • bookwormbookworm 9224 replies74 threads Senior Member
    I'm glad this discussion of the iB programs has been renewed after many years.

    We were fortunate that I had heard enough that son stayed at local HS, took APs and then classes at the local U. The 2 boys who began the IB program left it after a year.

    I'm sure in some areas it is run very well. It helps to understand the local conditions.
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  • PNWedwonkPNWedwonk 451 replies24 threads Member
    @bookworm, it's not clear to me that this discussion really has anything to do with IB at all. The only related element is that the student's IB school does not have a blanket policy that eliminates penalties for IB students who miss IB classes while they are taking IB exams. The same issue could apply to an AP only school that has AP classes that that penalize students for missing class while they take an AP exam. OP seems to have some secondary complaints that he attributes to IB (too many Art based projects where you have to buy your own supplies and the rubric wasn't clear?) but, as a parent of an IB diploma candidate (and with another AP focused grad), I don't agree that IB requires any more art-based projects than the non IB curriculum did. I think this is one of those cases where a parent has complaints and attributes them to the (IB in this case) program instead of to how their particular school, or even teacher, operates.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 82836 replies738 threads Senior Member
    Yes, this seems not IB specific; it happens to be an especially absurd example of hidden schedule conflicts with penalties for missed classes due to such hidden schedule conflicts.
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  • JenJenJenJenJenJenJenJen 1098 replies18 threads Senior Member
    @TiggerDad For the future, remember; Amazon Prime is your friend. :) But also, wanted to add that my D19 is winding up her freshman year with a teacher who deducts points for excuses absences as well. Due to school play rehearsals, she missed five classes and it impacted her grade. But you know what? Meh, so what. The theater stuff makes her so happy and makes her high school experience more fulfilling, it's no biggie. It's important to advocate for your kid, of course, but you have to be careful not to ruffle too many feathers.
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  • TiggerDadTiggerDad 2105 replies74 threads Senior Member
    edited May 2016
    @bookworm - I have ZERO issues with the IB program itself at my boy's high school. In fact, as I've stated elsewhere, I've been a huge fan of the program for several reasons. I don't want to restate what I've already stated in other threads, but I will mention that the program did make my older son's transition into college a whole lot easier. In fact, he thinks the college is lot easier than the high school. In my second son's (junior) case, his IB experience has been brutal and grueling because of all the extracurricular activities that he had to be on top of along with his academic pursuit of excellence. I have nothing but confidence that he will transition into college very smoothly, as well.

    @PNWedwonk - I do agree that IB isn't inherently more art based projects than non-IB curriculum. That art based assignments in non-art class, in my experience, was all entirely teacher stemmed. However, I think you misunderstood my earlier posts when you stated: "I think this is one of those cases where a parent has complaints and attributes them to the (IB in this case) program instead of to how their particular school, or even teacher, operates."

    My entire complaints are directed at the teachers mentioned, NOT at IB program itself. It's not the IB's fault that some of the teachers have taken on the program when it's over their heads. Some of these teachers lack subject mastery to begin with and they bring unnecessary difficulties and hurdles to make the course look "college level" and "tough" as a way of justifying the course. The students have to pay for this, but this, again, can't be the IB's fault. In fact, this problem also exists with AP courses, too, and those teachers who teach them. The ONLY "B" that my son has ever received in his entire K-11 years is AP Biology that was taught by someone who doesn't have the course content mastery. She decided to make the course very difficult, however, by "feigning" the course's "Advanced Placement" status just by being difficult with her grading. No one in her class ended up well prepared to take the AP Bio exam when the course was over with while hardly anyone received the grade of A. Instead of teaching the subject, it's either you already know how to apply the principles of biology or you don't. No amount of self-studying the subject helped the students whatsoever, so the students ended up giving up on self-studying. I DID protest this teacher and we had a group meeting with her, my son, school counselor and myself -- to no avail. Made no difference. The only way anything can change in high school in such situations is by eliminating deadwood and incompetent teachers, but the administrators are there to protect them and will fight tooth and nail with the parents and the students.
    edited May 2016
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  • IxnayBobIxnayBob 4486 replies42 threads Senior Member
    Re advocating for your kids, feather ruffling, HS teacher competence, etc.

    DS got an IB diploma, but he took APUSH. The teacher didn't understand the neurologist's Rx post-concussion, and seemed to feel that if DS wasn't flat on his back, he was okay. He got a non-A grade (B?, B+?), but DS covered his butt and soothed his pride by getting a 5 on the AP test and a 780 on the SAT Subject Test. When asked by the GC about it, he could honestly say it wasn't completely fair, and (without having seen her recommendation), I'm sure that his approach at least informed her view of him, whether or not a specific explanation of the grade made it into her rec.

    DS had an IB math teacher who was past his "best used by" date. IB Math is pretty basic in any case, my son was taking math courses at Columbia on the weekends, and this teacher had a chip on his shoulder to boot. DS and I had many conversations about the line between maintaining self-respect and being insolent. I finally called the IB coordinator/principal, who told me that the school prefers that students resolve issues themselves. I reminded him that DS had fended for himself over the years, that it was my first call ever, and that I had MY personal line when I thought a teacher was abusing his authority and bullying my kid. The principal took that at face value, mediated a discussion between DS and teacher, and they had a mutually respectful conclusion of the school year. It was the teacher's last year before retirement and perhaps his patience had worn thin.

    The kids went to a private school that had two distinct teacher cohorts. A good number of teachers had had succesful careers (Wall St., Bell Labs, etc) or were otherwise financially independent. They were teaching because they wanted to give back, found it interesting, or needed something besides golf to fill the hours. They were, without exception, inspirational teachers. The other cohort, those who needed the paycheck, were also mostly excellent. It was a private school, so the pay wasn't great, but most of them enjoyed the freedom, the generally high caliber of students, the small classes, etc. But, there were a few that had come to resent what they saw as spoiled, indulged, entitled students and teachers; they were a hot mess, made even worse by the freedom that worked so well for the others.

    In the end, all turned out fine. DS got into his first choice, Yale, in spite of his far from perfect GPA. I am convinced that he was accepted based on his LoRs, which I like to think highlighted his "non grade grubbing" nature. I am convinced that in parenting HS students, less is more when dealing with the school, except in cases of teachers abusing their authority.

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  • TiggerDadTiggerDad 2105 replies74 threads Senior Member
    @IxnayBob - Teachers in general despise those kids who are "grade grubbing" and therefore it is counter-productive to confront them about the grades. However, there's a thin line when confronted with a situation where unfairness is clearly presented. For example, it is categorically wrong to deduct points for missing classes when the students need to take AP and IB exams. I as a parent never got involved in that. As a rule I always have my son do all the communication about such matters. It's a part of the college preparation, after all. He's going to have to take care of all the issues that come up in college, so why deprive him of such skill set?

    Some teachers, especially those who like to take too much license with their personal ways of doing things, need to be confronted. Still, as a rule, we try to stay away from anything that'd come across as placing the grade as the central issue. Even when I met with the school counselor and the AP Biol teacher, the word "grade" never even came up. The entire discussion was in what ways could my son improve his understanding of the subject. In fact, the only reason why the counselor was in the meeting to begin with was because the teacher, who I think was intimidated by the prospect of meeting the parent one on one, had requested the counselor be present as her security blanket. I found that to be interesting since I only wanted to meet with the teacher to see for myself what my son needed to do to improve his grasp of the subject matter. I wanted to know whether my son needed an outside help (tutor, for example) or was the problem a simple matter of internal adjustments. So, for a meeting that I had envisioned as a parent/teacher consultation turned out to be more than that -- accidentally. That was the only time I had gotten myself involved with the school for this son.

    I've gotten myself involved with the school just once also for my older son, and it was a one on one meeting with the teacher. To make the long story short, with so many parents complaining about this Math SL teacher not only to the school administrators but also to the school district, the school finally relented and had him removed from teaching the course. My older son had to get around dealing with this teacher by taking AP Calc AB and BC and taking the AP exams in both AND still taking the SL exam in order to meet the IB requirement. My younger son took the same winded route only to learn, in the middle of finishing up his AP Calc BC this semester, that he can't just take the Math SL exam to fulfill the requirement but that he'd have to take the whole class in his senior year. The teacher's removal came too late for both my sons. But because of the parents' involvement, all the students in the IB program do not have to deal with this teacher any more.
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  • IxnayBobIxnayBob 4486 replies42 threads Senior Member
    @TiggerDad, I am, in general, a big fan of IB. I apologize for going somewhat off topic, but it's well past the time for IB to wake up and smell the coffee when it come to STEM students. IB math is too elementary for math-y kids, and they really should allow alternatives or provide their own. DS was in a situation similar to your son. He wanted to just skip the IB diploma, but the IB coordinator wanted to pimp the program, so he wouldn't allow him to just take IB ala carte, and DS had the additional friction of taking the course with a teacher who didn't really understand the material.

    Btw, my comment that "less is more" wasn't directed at you.
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