The Mathacre: Freshman Failures Cause Scheduling Nightmare

Joshua Perry, Co-editor-in-chief

Due to a large group of freshmen Algebra 1 students failing the first semester of the class, the math department and school administration have been working to provide alternatives for the students by altering class scheduling and offering a retake course during this semester.

This comes after an alteration in the content of the materials of current math curriculum this year which, according to math Department Chair Angela VanBuskirk, was actually a minor change.

“It’s not necessarily that they were taught different topics, they might just be in a different order based on how we’re trying to use the materials that the district has provided us in the best way for the students,” Mrs. VanBuskirk said.

Mrs. VanBuskirk said that the change in the class content couldn’t have caused this sort of mass failure, which she is familiar with.

“It’s happened before,” she said. “Does it have anything to do with curriculum? My belief (is) no. Does it have to do with students not maybe working as hard and using the resources of coming in after school or coming into the tutoring lab? That could very well be it.”

According to sophomore Alexa Harris, who took Algebra 1 last year, the class wasn’t particularly difficult. Why so many failed it this year is a mystery to her.

“Honestly, I have no idea because last year when I took Algebra 1 mostly everyone I talked (to) had high 90’s in the class,” she said.

This year, Harris’s math class had to be changed to accommodate the retake course for failed freshmen, which she said was a surprising start to the second semester.

“Overall, it was just a lot of confusion,” she said.

Many other math students had to have their schedules altered as well, like junior Amanda Wickman. She believes that the root of the failures is probably hard to pin down.

“I think it may be a mix of many things,” Wickman said. “It could be that many don’t care as much about school anymore, they could be frustrated about not understanding and (giving) up, or it could be that common core isn’t a good learning method.”

Mrs. VanBuskirk said that making sure students understand the material is important, but the responsibility ultimately falls on the student to put in the effort to pass.

“You have to work to do well…,” she said. “That’s something that we try to put into a student, but it’s an intrinsic want that you have to have.”