April 26, 2013

Brought To You by the Letter Z

My eldest son is taking an AP Stats class that is totally kicking his butt. I mean, it's ugly.

The entire year he's said, "Mom, the teacher is smart, but he's terrible. He is a TERRIBLE teacher..."

Don't get me wrong, I have listened, but I'm one of these parents that isn't going to blame it ALL on the teacher. Take some personal responsibility. I know my son. And... I have said to him, 'you're going to have a couple crap professors in college. How are you going to handle it then?'

So I've been putting a 50/50 blame for the struggles of this class.

And throughout it he has said, "Mom, I think I might be doing better than MOST in the class..." and since he's been barely eeking out a C, I've been saying, "I cannot possibly believe this..."

Finally about 5 weeks ago he came home demoralized, flopped on the couch and declared, "I'm going to fail Stats..."

Me: You can't fail stats. That's not an option.

Ringo: I don't see how I'm going to pass.

Me: 1) We don't fail classes. 2) If you fail this class, UCF is going to send you a letter that says, "Ringo, thank you for wanting to attend our university, however, in light of your final transcript, we are going to have to rescind your acceptance. Thank you very much for thinking of us..." 3) If you are really going to fail this class, I need to get you a tutor and throw money at this and make it go away.

Ringo: He said that from now until the end of the year, we're going to have a quiz EVERY week. I can barely pass his tests. If I have 5-6 more quizzes, that could be 5-6 F's and I'm going to fail.

Me: I'm getting you a frickin' tutor.

And so I did. And the tutor has been a big help in getting Ringo prepared for the final, but exclamations such as the below, have not helped my feelings towards this class.

Ringo: Mom! I got a 9 on my last quiz.

Me: ?

Ringo: Out of 14.

Me: And... you're happy?

Ringo: YES! I got over 50%!

Me: Dude... it's still not passing. It's still a D!

Ringo: It's over 50%!

This has gone on for every week... with his waffling between 50% and 65%. On Wednesday he came home and this was our conversation.

Me, hopeful: So?! How as it?

Ringo: Miserable, Mom. Absolutely miserable. I got... a FOUR.

Me: *sucking in air* Out of...

Ringo: 10. I got a four out of ten. But, the highest grade was a six.

Me: So you essentially made one of the highest grades in the class... with a 40%?

Ringo: If he doesn't curve these grades, I'm so screwed.

Evidently, the teacher was going to add up these scores for a total of 100 points as one big test grade.

Ringo came home yesterday and said that the teacher threw out the two worst test scores, and added the rest, to give him one test grade. From there, he did a Zscore to determine where each student fell.

Ringo got curved up to a 97%.


Here is a kid who never scored above a D on one quiz and he gets an A, because even though his grades reflected he had no clue what was going on, he knew more than 97% of the class.

I'm blown the hell away. Blown away.

I think that it is possible for me to say that my son is right that the teacher totally sucks, because let me tell you, there are some SMART kids in his class; smart motivated kids.

You know what bothers me? When you apply to go to college, the colleges don't know how bad your teacher tanked. They only see the grade. They don't see what went into that grade... the gradual demoralization.

Don't think I haven't let people know about this. I was told when I first complained, 'This is an AP class. It's supposed to be tough.'

I'm biting my tongue now, but trust me, I will not remain completely quiet... for long.

He's the smartest D in the class. Crazy.

Posted by Boudicca at April 26, 2013 09:44 PM

S is dealing with one of these "teachers"... The highest average in the class is a 47... It's ridiculous... She has a 29 "C"...

Posted by: Pcola Titan at April 26, 2013 10:00 PM

Those scores ought to be telling that teacher to modify his teaching approach. Jeez - he's a statistics teacher! Isn't he a little worried about HIS stats? What's the point of being a teacher if you're not imparting information?

I think you were the one who turned me on to Clay Bond's site (may he rest in peace!). He had a terrific series of tutorials on using test results to fine tune teaching. I wish I had copied and kept them. I imagine they're still archived somewhere, and I wish I knew how to find them!

Posted by: PeggyU at April 26, 2013 11:40 PM

God I hate teachers like that. Unfortunately you're absolutely right that he'll likely encounter more like that in college and it's up to him to figure out how to deal when you're not there to help him. Same goes for future jobs and crap bosses. Consider it a teaching moment (no pun intended). That having been said, too bad you can't push this teacher overboard and teach the class yourself, I have a feeling the kids would learn a lot more.

Posted by: diamond dave at April 27, 2013 06:03 AM

There is just so much wrong with it. I think what bothers me most is this is the first real exposure to Stats for about 25 kids. Every one of them has been turned off now. My son won't even THINK of it as a major, yet he has a math brain.

And I find that so very sad...

Posted by: Bou at April 27, 2013 08:47 AM

Of course he won't think of a stats major if he has a math brain. Stats isn't math, it's numerical politics.

Posted by: Pogue at April 27, 2013 11:23 AM

as a math teacher (who regularly teaches prob and stats) this enrages me -- please shoot me if i ever become the sort of teacher who does that!

Posted by: rae at April 27, 2013 01:03 PM

Pogue- good point! However, he is good with numbers. It would be a good field...

Rae- I think he's always been like this. And teaching was not his passion. He became a teacher when he retired FROM his passion. He's brilliant... just can't pass on the information. The kids say he speaks too far above them...

Posted by: Bou at April 28, 2013 09:56 PM

That just makes me sad.

Posted by: rae at April 29, 2013 12:11 PM