Who Should Take a Summer Math Course?

The most common question that I get in May and June is whether a student should take a math course during the summer. My response has been the same for the last 20 years:  NO, not unless required. Students who don’t have a passing math grade are required to repeat the course. Rather than repeating the course in the fall, students typically take it in the summer. Because they are seeing the material for a second time, they perform better even though the course’s pace is much faster than during the academic year.

However, electing to take pre-calculus in the summer in order to take Calculus or Statistics in the fall is not something I’d recommend. The pace of a summer math course is 4-5 times the pace of the same course during the academic year, and most students can’t keep up. Secondly, since students are cramming 250 pages of math into eight weeks of instruction, students are not learning much and are retaining even less. Doing well in Calculus I is difficult even with a solid understanding of pre-calculus. Students who take pre-calculus in the summer will likely struggle with calculations and concepts of Calculus I throughout the course, which impacts their ability to do well in Calculus II…envision a rolling snowball.

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Is it Too Late to Get a B?

This time of year, the volume of calls triples, and parents are asking the same question–is there enough time to raise Johnny’s math grade from a D to a B?  Well it depends.  Typically, a student needs 6-8 weeks, but there are many assumptions in that estimate.  First, the D has to be closer to a C (70%) than a F (59% or less).  Second, there should be at least three testing opportunities in addition to the final, and other assignments such as homework or projects.  Third, the student needs some motivation to get the B.  Fourth, the student and parent need to agree on the number of hours devoted to studying math.

The first mistake most parents make is that they are not aggressive enough with getting the student back on track; they send the student for one session of tutoring per week, which is like throwing a life jacket to someone who is drowning.  Instead, the student needs to be pulled from the water.  When Johnny is drowning in math concepts, formulas, etc., he needs daily tutoring for a week or two and then 2-3 times a week thereafter.  And, still, there are no guarantees, which is the news that I really dislike delivering.

The second mistake most parents make is changing their stance to ”We just want him to pass (i.e., get a C-).”  Aiming for a C- is …well, it is a bit dicey because students with low math grades perform inconsistently on math tests.  So, I could help Johnny by making sure he knows the material well enough to get a B-, but he could get anxious during the test and get a D.

What’s the best solution?  Call in March.


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Education Fundraiser: Concord-AAUW’s Art & Wine (and Beer) Walk: Sat., 5/10

Stroll around Todos Santos Plaza and Salvio Square in downtown Concord, CA while enjoying fine wine and beer, viewing beautiful art, and meeting local artists.  Proceeds will be used to fund scholarships for local girls and women provided by the American Association of University Women.  $20 per person.  Must be 21 years or older to participate.  Purchase tickets here!

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SAT/ACT Combo Test, the PRA
Sunday, October 20, 2013, 8:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
Moraga Country Club (upstairs)
1600 St. Andrews Drive, Moraga

Find out whether the SAT or ACT is a better fit for you: take the PRA,  designed to help you determine which test you would score higher on.  Get realistic practice, and answer the types of questions you will face on the actual exam.  You will receive a personalized score report pinpointing your strengths and weaknesses.  For more information:  http://sat-act.aauwoml.org/.

The Princeton Review is working in partnership with the Orinda-Moraga-Lafayette AAUW Scholarship Committee.

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Be Significant! Win a Subscription for your High School!

In 250 words or less tell Mostly Math how your high school would benefit from having Significance on your campus. How might teachers and students use it?  If your entry is selected your high school will receive a subscription to Significance magazine, the magazine that brings statistics to life with fascinating world-wide ways that statistics is being used– like how much vultures pay us in a year.  Mostly Math will post the winning school’s name.  Entries due: April 21, 2013.  High school students, their parents, faculty & staff may apply.

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Mastering College Planning

What: Mastering College Planning
When: Thursday, Dec 6, 2012, 6:30-8:30pm
Where: Lafayette Library, Arts & Science Discovery Center
Register: www.NewSpringCollegePlanning.com or call 415.322.4501

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FREE SAT Practice

What: FREE SAT Practice
When: Sunday, Dec 2, 2012, 1-5pm
Where: Lafayette Library, Homework Center, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, CA
Register: www.smartcookielearning.com or call 925.297.5304

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FREE Education Forum for parents & students: SAT v. ACT

What: Learn the difference between the SAT and the ACT
When: Sunday, October 7, 2012, 3-4pm
Where: Lafayette Library Homework Center
Register: www.smartcookielearning.com or call 925.297.5304

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Tonight: Cutting Edge Careers, College Park HS, Grades 4-12

Sometimes kids don’t seem enthusiastic about school because they don’t see the connection between what they’re learning and the careers that knowledge prepares them for. Whether you’re in Orinda or Pleasanton, take a drive out to College Park High School in Pleasant Hill (down the street from Sun Valley Mall) and give your child the great opportunity of exploring cutting edge careers.

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Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowships

The Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowships (http://www.wwteachingfellowship.org) has an early decision deadline of October 22, 2012 and a final deadline of January 21, 2013. These fellowships are available to graduating seniors (bachelors degree by June 30, 2013) who have majored in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, math); recent graduates and longer-term alumni are also eligible. The Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowships prepare outstanding candidates to teach math and science in high-need high schools in one of the three currently participating states: Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. Applicants from all states are welcome. The award is $30,000, and the program encompasses not only master’s-level preparation but also mentoring throughout the first three years of teaching.

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