Math class - what would you do?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by svengandhi, Jun 19, 2010.

  1. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    difficult child is a very bright person. He is 15 and just finishing 10th grade. He is classified as ED for a school-based anxiety disorder.

    He has been in Honors math since grade 7. This year, he has run C - C+ all 3 quarters. School just ended and we don't know his final grade yet. Last night, his teacher sent an email basically suggesting that we remove him from Honors for next year and put him in what's called Accelerated. It's kids who used to be in Honors but dropped down for various reasons, primarily that the math was too hard in Honors or, as with several of difficult child's friends, they weren't happy with getting a B in Honors and wanted A's in the easier class.

    For background, difficult child does not study and rarely does HW. He did not open the book to study for his final or his state test. In last year's state test, he got a 99. I don't know his score yet from the tests he took this past week. He took the SATs without studying in grade 9 and got a 620 on the math and 670 on verbal; he is very intelligent when he wants to be.

    difficult child does not want to leave the Honors program. They can't force him out, they can only suggest it. I know that their reason as stated is that they don't want his GPA to be negatively effected but, in reality, it's because they want to be able to say that their Honors classes have only high achieving students in them. The school district does not care about potential, only present performance.

    As his parent, I am torn. I have given up worrying about his GPA - he has no interest in attending the type of college kids with his brains and abilities should be able to go to and even the way it is, his GPA is still good enough to get into a decent state college. He is not motivated by grades. My concern is that if I take him out of Honors, his grade will go down because he will be bored and will do even less than he is now and that he will sabotage himself even more.

    We basically told the school that, if he was studying for hours a day, doing all of his HW, going for extra help and tutoring and was getting those C's, we would agree that the material is too difficult for him and we would move him. But my friend's son, who just graduated with an engineering degree from a top school, had the same class in 10th grade. He DID study every night, did all his HW, went to extra help and earned B+ in the class. Since difficult child is getting C's without studying, it must mean he understands the material enough to pass on his own. He is not planning a career involving math and the state test is not required for graduation, just to get a honor recognition on his diploma. Last year's math test was the required one for graduation. He is technically finished with his required math courses for all but the top colleges but he plans to continue on anyway.

    What do you think? Should I let him stay where he's happy or should I force him down into a lower level class where he might do no work and put in even less effort than he does now?

    The only thing I am sure of is that the school does not have his best interests at heart and he, himself, is too stubborn and immature to even be aware of his own needs.


  2. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Well, you know your kid best. That said, why not keep him in the honors class, and find out if there's an option to transfer out at the end of the first semester?

    Another thought is that there might be less of an impact on his anxiety if he's in the accelerated class, and he might actually DO the homework.

    And then there's difficult child's opinion, which to a certain degree you should consider as well, even if he's immature and stubborn (and what 15yo isn't?) If it's not a big deal to him, and you don't anticipate him trying to get into a 4-year university right off the bat, then why not let him stay in the honors class?

    We had similar problems with difficult child 1 this year because of his IBS and related anxiety -- didn't do a lot of the homework, but did very well on exams. So we know he's bright and understands what he's being taught. And I've resigned myself to him starting out at a community college the first two years. He's just not cut out for the competitive pressure a 4-year program has. And that's just fine with me now. It will save us a boatload of money in the long run!
  3. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I'd let him stay where he's happy and comfortable as long as he's passing. My son did accelerated math in middle school and they cover material a whole lot faster- I can't see how this would help your son and it appears that it would likely make his grades worse if he doesn't like to study or do homework. I tend to think my son will be even less motivated if I try to force him to take certain classes. The school district should be taking that into consideration.
  4. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Arg. How frustrating. It is so awful when these kids cannot fathom how they are sabotaging themselves, especially when they are so smart.
    I have no advice, I'm afraid.
    Just support.
  5. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Good job recognizing that the school wants him in the lower class because they want their test scores high. It is hard, as a parent, to recognize when a school does not have your child's interests in mind, but it does happen. What you see happening is actually very common in honors courses.

    Why would you want him to dumb himself down? As HE doesn't want to go to a "top" college, and he is passing the honors course with-o any effort, let him stay there. This class is giving him something of a challenge. He isn't skipping it so it cannot be tooooo boring. As he plans to take another math class, if you put him in the lower level he will do even worse.

    Bored difficult children cause problems. Sometimes major ones. If you move him down a level he still won't study, he will learn even less, and he will be resentful. It is a recipe guaranteed to produce more conflict and problems. He is not being hurt by staying in the class. School may get frustrated but I would want the challenge to still be there for my difficult child so that on some level he will still be learning. I think having to go into a lower level class would make him feel worse about himself, he would have to make new friends in the class, and since the social stuff is often very hard for difficult children I would worry that he would just decide not to do it.

    Just my opinion.
  6. skeeter

    skeeter New Member

    My younger son managed to "dump" himself out of AP English in Senior year by not handing in a long term project (that he had actually completed) in his Junior year. His teacher was ready to pull her hair out, but I told her to let him suffer the consequences. Homework was always his sticking point.

    As long as the school isn't demanding your son move down a level, I'd be tempted to keep him where he is. I, too, would be more concerned with the boredom factor than actual letter grade.
  7. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    I spoke with difficult child and he wants to be in the math class. I will not let him be removed.

    He failed to hand in a paper in his AP Euro class this year and earned an F for the quarter, on top of a C+ and a D for the first two quarters. The Euro class is one of the hardest in the school and many brilliant children don't even pass the first or second quarter. My daughter's friend, who is at an Ivy league college now, dropped this course in the first quarter. At his CSE, he was told that if he didn't pass for the fourth quarter, he would have to go to summer school and have to give up his summer job as a shooting range counselor at Boy Scout camp. The next week, he got a 94 on the final and a 96 on the last paper for the course.

    On the other hand, he was one of 10 students chosen to be in a special, competitive science type program which involved doing research projects and papers. It was an elective. When he didn't hand in the first paper, I pulled him out of the program. Why should he take a spot in a limited program that another child might actually use to advantage? In the math class, he isn't taking a spot from another kid. There's no waiting list, like for the research group.

    So it's an issue of motivation for him. It's important to him to be in the Honors math class but it's not necessary to his self-esteem to actually do well in it. Ditto with honors chem and honors Latin (however, I did pull the plug on continuing with Latin next year). He refuses to be in AP English and I am not pushing it. Next year, he will take Honors Math, honors physics, AP psychology and AP US History.

    Do I wish he'd get the grades he's capable of getting? Sure, but if he did, I wouldn't be here on this board, getting great advice from terrific and caring mom. Thanks to all.

    I appreciate everyone's thoughts on the matter.
  8. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    Well, difficult child was the only kid who didn't attend the review session his teacher offered for math and the only one who failed. I am not sure whether to laugh or to cry. He got a 45 - this was without studying for the entire year, doing much HW, etc. He is getting a C+ for the year so he must have done ok the rest of the quarter.

    The teacher said we have to sign a waiver to keep him in honors next year because she doesn't recommend it. We told her that the school which is ranked 2d in our state in the new Newsweek poll has an open Honors and AP policy meaning any kid who wants to take such a class is in - no teacher recs, testing or mandatory grade requirements. OUR school did not even make the list.

    H told difficult child what went on and told him that he'd better work harder next year. I think his chess coach teaches the next level and difficult child will hopefully work for him. He said that difficult child did seem sort of embarrassed and said he guessed he needed to do more.

    What really kills me is that he is getting C+ in a very high level math class with absolutely NO effort - with just the tiniest bit of work, he could be getting B or better.

    I hope he wakes up soon.
  9. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Even if he doesn't wake up and perform, he is CLEARLY learning. I say clearly because when he had to do stuff at the last minute and get good grades he was able to do so. in my opinion he is bored, even in these honors classes. If everything comes easily why work on it? Chances are he thinks the adults are idiots for going over this stuff when it is so obvious to him. How do I know? I was like that in some classes. Teachers drove me NUTS because they would go over and over and over stuff. I got it the first time usually - even if I wasn't fully paying attention. Wiz is like this. Even in 2nd grade he could be laying on his back on the floor spinning around and mumbling to himself and still repeat everything that was said and get the assignment right.

    That is NOT an easy way to get through school. You get SOO BORED and there is no real motivation to try unless you want to please someone. Maybe with his chess coach he will have a reason to put in more effort.

    I predict that college will be hard for him. Profs don't go over stuff as much and the quantity of material makes study skills important. He doesn't have any because he never needed any. Not his fault, not yours, just what is. Virtually NO schools really worry about kids like your son enough to put individualized lessons that would really challenge them. Schools figure that the smart kids will be bored but do okay anyway. Sadly the very smart bored kids are at a very high risk for drug abuse. they are bored, looking for something interesting. They are smarter than everyone so while drugs might hurt other people, they are smart enough to "handle" them and benefit from them. I know a lot of highly intelligent people who have made truly stupid decisions about drugs and had huge problems. Some of them are shadows of who they used to be because drugs truly do kill brain cells. They also make you boring. (Have you ever been clean and sober in a room full of people who are high on pot? They sit and stare and say "WOW" and other equally fascinating things. If they add hallucinogens it is even worse. Later recaps of the party are filled with all sorts of things that didn't really happen. things that were so "funny" and caused gales of laughter that only they saw/heard/felt.

    I hope that someday our schools spend as much energy and money challenging the smart kids so they are NOT bored as is devoted to kids with other problems. Because it truly IS a problem and we fritter away so much potential with the way things are now.

    So sign the waiver, pray the chess coach motivates him, and be ready for a couple of rough semesters in college. When he cannot figure out why he is having so many problems in college find a study skills course and have him take it. I took one through the education college at my university. It was all about HOW to learn. Mostly it was designed to help the football players (one of them in my class couldn't sound out words even, but he worked hard to learn how) get an easy A. Without it I am not sure I would have been able to get a degree, in spite of my academic scholarships.

    I hope someday he finds his passion and devotes his considerable intelligence to being the best in whatever field that is.