The calculus of registering for Math classes

by Morgan Divittorio | December 3, 2014 10:56 am

For current RB students, a gap seemingly exists when they get to their junior year of math.  Right now, their options are to either take Regular Algebra 2/Trig or to opt for the challenge of Honors Pre-Calc.  For some, this can present a dilemma.  Should math be too easy or too hard?

“I find that I’m doing very well in Algebra 2/Trig,” junior Cris Lopez said, “but if I was in Honors Pre-Calc I would be completely overwhelmed and I would be struggling.”

The curriculum used to offer an Honors Algebra 2/Trig course which would have seemingly split the difficulty level between the two current offerings, but the class was eliminated, along with others, after the 2010 failed operating fund referendum.

“The department realized that it didn’t make sense for us to have that [class] for two reasons, “ Math Instructional Coach Doug Schultz said.  “One is there was a funding issue, and we also realized it didn’t make sense solely because the purpose of the class does not call for an honors level.”

Schultz also noted that scheduling students for the class became an issue.  Board policy changed after the referendum, leading to larger class size requirements and a focus on eliminating or at least reviewing classes that were undersized.

In the end, Schultz believes the school found the right answer.

“There will always be students that are in classes who find it easier or more challenging than others.  It doesn’t make sense for the math department to create a completely new class when the two core classes we have are already working wonderfully.”

In the current system, students start figuring out which math track they will follow even before they arrive at RB.

“Usually it starts before freshman year,” Schultz said.  “Most students are placed in Algebra I or Honors Algebra I.  From there, depending on how well they do, teachers can recommend them for Honors or Regular Geometry.  Most of the time we see students who take Honors Geometry go into Pre-Calc and those in Regular Geometry go into Algebra 2/Trig.”

Students are currently registering for their 2015-16 classes.  The class of 2017 has completed their registration, while the class of 2018 is just beginning.  The classes of 2016  and 2019 will be registering in the next few weeks.

The difference in where a student ends up depends on their classroom performance.

“It all really does depend on the student,” Schultz said.

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