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Recommend parents be careful about moving up in tracks and about how much was learned during remote

sattutsattut 1038 replies94 threads Senior Member
I had a tutoring client for which I was doing several hours a week of lesson for AB Calculus. The class is at a private school, and harder than most AB Calculus classes. The mother got upset than the kid got a B on the first test after we had been doing about 6 hours/week tutoring. I told her that it was a review of precalculus and he had not had honors precalculus, so he was at a disadvantage.

I didn't understand initially, but apparently he got 100 on everything last school year after the lockdown, including the final, so someone at the school recommended he move up. However, he had learned close to nothing after the lockdown. As a result he got moved into an AP which he didn't belong in, and needed several hours of tutoring so as not to get a C or a D first semester senior year.

I recommend that parents be careful about moving students up in track, particularly senior year due to the effect on first semester senior year grades. I would also recommend being careful about being moved up due to grades during remote instruction. In fact many student would be better served getting tutoring for material they didn't learn during remote instruction.
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Replies to: Recommend parents be careful about moving up in tracks and about how much was learned during remote

  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 3897 replies94 threads Senior Member
    edited October 15
    Valid points.

    Six hours of tutoring a week! They must be very wealthy or very desperate.

    DD's hybrid learning schedule shortchanges the kids of 1-2 hours of class time (depending on the week) each period of every week. That adds up quickly. It is frustrating for the teachers who have to pick what to eliminate and what material to leave to the kids to master on their own. All the classes are moving at a brisk clip. For a student moving up a level, the effects are multiplied. The school is doing it's best given the circumstances, but we're bound to see fallout from this later.

    The kids in CPS have a petition going to eliminate homework during the pandemic. I can't imagine how much further behind doing that would land them.
    edited October 15
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30787 replies59 threads Senior Member
    Yes, this can happen when a student takes a step up in difficulty that is bit more than S/he can handle and excell.

    It comes down to the old question that is often asked about highly selective schools’ admissions, what’s better, an “A” in a not as difficult course or a “B” in a more difficult course, with answer being neither of those choices, but an “A” in the more difficult course.

    The issue is that one cannot have the possibility of the “A” in the more difficult course without taking it. In your student’s particular case, I can well understand why it was recommended that the more difficult course be attempted, given his performance in the course he took last. It was an attempt to step up and I’d have made the attempt. The question NOW is not what that decision should have been, but whether he can move to the lower level course since the prospects of an “A” are low and the efforts, time and expense to even get the “B” and , more importantly, IMO, get a good base of knowledge and understanding of the material are diminishing.

    I think the decision was a good one, a Chance was taken , and it may not be panning out. Happens sometime. The pandemic out a curveball into the picture, and clearly, in retrospect, the tutoring should have been during the gap time when, instead the student rested on his laurels.

    My one kid moved up each year in course difficulty. He started out a bit behind because he just doesn’t test well and his placement test scores were low. But the move up paid off as his transcript clearly showed how he moved up in course difficulty and ended up with the kids taking the most difficult courses and he was excelling. I think that was a major factor in his acceptance me to schools where his test scores were in the lower 25%. He did not get straight As during this journey either but that his teacher and GC LORs were sterling and brought up the acceleration in his difficulty level and willingness to take on that challenge did have a great impact. His college accepts included schools that kids with better overall academic resumes were not accepted. AOs love upward trends.
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 3023 replies48 threads Senior Member
    The issue is that one cannot have the possibility of the “A” in the more difficult course without taking it.

    The other issue is that you can’t get an A in the harder class if you don’t have the ability. To some, the answer to the student posted here is “just get a A”. They never answer the question, choosing the two actual possibilities.

    In this case, Does the student have a non-honors Calc class to transition to? Several weeks in, teacher and tutor should have enough exposure to the student to know whether he is capable of overcoming the gap in preparation and succeeding.

    A B in an AP course isn’t a tragedy, but 6 hours of tutoring a week to get that B, with a C/D as the alternative tells me the student is in the wrong class if that will be required all year.

    I’m a champion of acceleration, but even the data that supports it, showing 80%+ success, means 15-20% of the time it doesn’t work. It’s important to be able to recognize these situations and not just tell the student to “suck it up and get better”. The advanced level where a student can succeed is the right place to be.

    Unfortunately, as noted, remote work has compounded this issue. Even well-planned, long-running remote learning programs can have challenges. Most schools were thrown into this with a few weeks notice and we’re in no way prepared. In the Spring my D finish her “remote work” by noon each day. Fortunately, College Board had supplemental preparation sessions to get her ready for AP tests and we found other online sources to continue learning.

    So yes, be aware and pay attention to the challenges of acceleration, as always. Don’t be afraid to try it, but also don’t be afraid to monitor and act when it doesn’t work. Multiple compounding factors - a jump from non-honors to AP in a remote model should be significant red flags.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30787 replies59 threads Senior Member
    A kid with straight 100s in regular Precalc would seem to likely have the ability to excel in an upper track. But of course it depends upon the difference in tracks. The student in the example supposedly was moved up on recommendation from the school. I mean, really, as a parent, I’d have moved the kid up too with a 100% record and a rec to from the school to do so.

    Of course m, there are the “shoulda, coulda, woulda” in terms of preparation the kid should have done when making that move. That’s fine with now, and the situation now is whether it’s wise to stay in current class with the difficulties he’s experiencing. Can he be moved to an easier CALC course now? How much will a B hurt the kid if he stays, and can he get that B without too much taken out of him. What does he want?

    One of mine was moved from reg Precalc to AP Calc and he did do fine without any extra prep work. Should have been in Honors Precalc but we had moved in middle of high school and there was a conflict in courses. And he was no shoo in for the Honors Precalc and doubts as to whether he should have taken APCalc.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 85051 replies758 threads Senior Member
    sattut wrote: »
    I had a tutoring client for which I was doing several hours a week of lesson for AB Calculus. The class is at a private school, and harder than most AB Calculus classes. The mother got upset than the kid got a B on the first test after we had been doing about 6 hours/week tutoring. I told her that it was a review of precalculus and he had not had honors precalculus, so he was at a disadvantage.

    I didn't understand initially, but apparently he got 100 on everything last school year after the lockdown, including the final, so someone at the school recommended he move up. However, he had learned close to nothing after the lockdown.

    This seems to be more of an issue with the school doing poorly at the unanticipated switch to online / distance education (granted, there are probably lots of schools which did poorly at that).

    After regular precalculus, the next expected course is calculus (whether in high school or college). Since calculus AB is a slower gentler version of the calculus that student would normally take if they take calculus in college (e.g. for students who take precalculus in 12th grade), then that does not seem like "moving up in tracks".
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