Monday, May 9, 2016

How much time? #MTBoS30 - 9

I jumped into a Twitter conversation the other day when I saw this post:
The premise of the conversation is that students don't drop out of school because of art class or gym ... but because of math and science classes.

I could relate to the angst expressed in electives and extracurricular having more emphasis than core classes.

Please understand ... I love music, and know the value of the team sports!

In our school our high school students take 8 courses, 4 courses a day.  They declare as a freshman a particular academy or an elective path they want to follow.  We offer health sciences including biomedical sciences; business and industry courses including specialities in 3D animation & game design, automotive technology, culinary science, journalism, and business management; public services including education courses and law enforcement; STEM including computer sciences and engineering, and last but not least, visual & performing arts including band, orchestra, theater, and the arts.  In addition to these academies we offer electives in most team sports - classes for football, soccer, basketball, volleyball, baseball and cheer!  Our electives list is huge.

What is sometimes challenging for me is that some of those classes are double-blocked ... meaning they meet every day, 180 days, for 90 minutes.  The band, orchestra, sports, cheer ... all of those are double-blocked.

"Core" courses meet every other day, 90 days, for 90 minutes.  So English, math, science, and social studies get half the class time that music and sports get.

I'm curious how much time is allotted to your math class?

Yes our teams are really good, and our music program is top notch!  But I do wonder what math and English goals we could accomplish if we had the same amount of class time (not to mention the required rehearsals/practices before/after school)!

The average student in our school takes four years of English, math, science, and social studies!  They also take at least 2 years of a foreign language.  That leaves room for 14 electives!

In math our students take the common progression Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2.  Students who experience more difficulty with math might take Math Models between Geometry and Algebra 2.  After Algebra 2 students have choices between precalculus and AB or BC calculus or a problem solving course called Advanced Quantitative Reasoning.  They can also choose AP Statistics.

Our math program is good, reasonably strong.  But again ... I just wonder what might happen if we could add a few more minutes into the program!

Is it our strong academies and electives that keep students interested in school?
Would there be fewer graduates if we had more time in core classes?

I wonder what school might be like if it focused on academics and local municipalities created/organized/ran the recreation/sports programs?

Just had to add this link ... journal article ... case against high school sports!


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