Students in the Wrong Classes

Today, I'd like to talk about students being placed in classes below their actual capabilities. And what better place to do that than here on, a website with some of the smartest kids from around the world. This problem, unlike most, only applies to the top 1% or so of students.

Since schools were first made, there have been many accommodations made for those who struggle in their classes. Tutors, extra help sessions, dropping classes to easier ones, or even creating an easier class are just few of the many solutions that have been made for the academically challenged. Unfortunately, for many of the academically gifted, there are few if not 0 ways to accelerate into the correct classes for them.

Problems associated with not being able to accelerate include but are not limited to: learning nothing, boredom, low homework scores, high test scores that wreck the curve for everyone else, and death.

Ok maybe not so much the last one but you get my point.

My solution to this would be to have a standardized test for every subject, kind of like the AP tests but for non-AP subjects. If a student passed this test with a 5 (same grading scale as AP tests) then he should be able to skip the class.

So I want to know what you guys think about this topic of students being placed in classes below their abilities and what you think of my solution to this (although I highly doubt it will be implemented).

Note by Trevor Arashiro
5 years, 9 months ago

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I kinda disagree with you. Although we have different education systems, the gist is same. I don't think one single exam can test what you are tested in 2 years. And now, don't say let's take 2, then? Okay what about 10 exams?

Well, if I am permissible to go a bit philosophical, it is not the exams which test a human. What happens in the full one year, what a person gains in that year, is experience, of life. Prodigies don't live a life, they run an errand on this world, for example, Sir Ramanujan. That experience is by age. I cannot enjoy the beauty of, for example, enantiomers, optical activity and stuff, at the age of 10. I can learn it, but I cannot enjoy it. Or I cannot enjoy the beauty of Golden Ratio at the age of 20.

This system is all planned with quite a many problems which lie in the shadow of the illuminated problems as you've discussed. Learn what one loves. That should be the ideology. All system has been destroyed. It was simple, we complicated it. The system was - we will be taught things and we will be tested on our understanding of it. It was never there that we will have to learn things what we will be tested on. The solution is simple again. All the "academically gifted" students do what they want. If they are really "academically gifted", they don't want a class to show that. They learn what they love, if they don't enjoy something, skip it till the class does or have some help from the internet or some good teachers. Just move on in the same stream of water and just add more water every centimeter.

Kartik Sharma - 5 years, 8 months ago

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The exam that I am talking of will consist solely of what a single course would teach you in a year (here we have 1 year of each topic: Alg 1, Geom, Alg 2, Pre-calc...etc). This test will not test your knowledge of formulas or things you learn, but rather your conceptual understanding of those concepts. In a sense, it is like the IMO (not as difficult, but hear me out). To get a perfect score on the IMO, you need to know pretty much 0 calculus. The most important attribute to scoring well on the IMO is a very high fundamental understanding of Alg 1, 2, Geom, and Trig.

And indeed, you are very philosophical.

I know that a lot of math is experience. I have learned that experience is gained even from sitting in a class while you learn absolutely nothing. However, if a student accelerates, the experience that he gains from that school year will drastically increase.

Also, you use two extremely bipolar examples. You say that you can not enjoy enantiomers at the age of 10 and I highly doubt that there are more than two people in the world who would disagree with you. However, I am not saying to take class acceleration to this extreme. Learning these topics at the age of 10 is practically skipping 7-8 grade levels of material. However, at the age of 10, a handful of people may understand the significance of clouds and enjoy learning about them. This is skipping only 1-2 grade levels which is not unreasonable.

Next, you say that at the age of 20, you cannot fully understand the beauty of the golden ratio. This is true, but you can begin to understand about 60% of what truly makes it beautiful. I am certain that no matter how old I get, I will never fullyfully understand the true meaning of the golden ratio. I will always find a new application, new problem, or new meaning of phi.

Trevor Arashiro - 5 years, 8 months ago

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I'm guessing that if you ever get a tattoo it will be ϕ.\phi. :) (I suppose that would be sign #42 that you're a math nerd.)

P.S.. I never accelerated, (although there were "enriched" classes). To keep occupied I would assist others; there is nothing like teaching to solidify one's knowledge of a subject. There was one kid I tried to keep up with who ended up finishing high school by 14, and while he was doing this was also taking freshman and sophomore courses at the local university, (and getting the top marks to boot). Perhaps auditing courses at a local university, (if available), could be made an option for gifted students.

Brian Charlesworth - 5 years, 8 months ago

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Man, you are very philosophical and very correct. What academically gifted students in my city do is, they buy books which are at a more higher level than them or study with a tutor who teaches them higher level stuff (apart from school). But some students are not aware of this and kinda lose their confidence sometimes, seeing others going in front of them.

Ameya Salankar - 5 years, 8 months ago

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My school has the option to skip AP Calculus and take Multivariable Calc with a teacher's recommendation and a 5 on the AP Calc exam. However, many other classes are not so "skippable". For example, there is no way to skip Geometry Honors unless you're Jonathan Hiega and make IMO, IChO, and IPhO.

The only other way of accelerating a non-AP class at my school that is very common is to go to another easier school which teaches a subject earlier. For example, eight students at my school used to go to other schools. 1 of them transferred into our school and was placed in Algebra 2 simply because he had taken Geometry at his former school. However, his school is much easier than my school (just going by ratings). He had to drop down to Alg 1 because at his school, they teach half of stuff we learn in Alg-1. The course names are the same, but the information each teaches is completely different. Of the other 7 students who transferred to my school on an accelerated math track, 4-5 of them are constantly below the class average. I feel that the way our acceleration system works needs to be changed.

Trevor Arashiro - 5 years, 9 months ago

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Trevor, I agree with you on your main point, that more accelerated opportunities should be presented to the academically gifted, but I think more along the lines of @Kartik Sharma that this should be accomplished through a means different that simply standardized testing. Standardized testing is a good sign of where a student stands academically, but for the students who don't do well in these tests, other "testing" methods should be introduced. Most enrichment occurs outside of test situations, and it could be more beneficial to the academically gifted if they didn't focus solely on standardized testing.

David Holcer - 5 years, 8 months ago

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There is also the problem of placing students above their intellectual level, sometimes.

Agnishom Chattopadhyay - 5 years, 8 months ago

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Yes, this problem is much more common than the one I am talking about. However, this issue has received much, much more attention than it should given the small amount of attention given to the issue I am talking about.

Trevor Arashiro - 5 years, 8 months ago

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i get that we are from different education system, but the gist is the same. i could not agree more with you sir. although, it does not apply to all subjects.if i am good in math but avg in commerce, then that would require subject wise class distrubution. actually school takes years on one subject. not because there are huge amounts to learn, but weaker student need to understand taking way more time. i find that somethings take ridiculously too much time. for example, last year, in grade 7, they took 3 MONTHS to teach the Pythagorean theorem. you must be thinking , must have been excellently explained and proofed, but no, not a single proof, just claim. if you would ask me some people need time to understand, some don't. i thought that you know what, why waste my time waiting for school, and resorted to here, i have been rapidly learning ever since. actually, in my class i'm the best in most subjects, but there are others with great potential. 20% of my class are yet to lose a single mark in maths. but 30% get around 40%-60%. if lets say you were given some knowledge and you understood it by taking a hour, for example~ pythagorean theorem, which combined with whole pack should take no more than 20 mins to finish the basics if extended for 40 min classes over 3 months, i believe no more elaborations required. although i am learning rapidly, i find it would have been better if i was learning math interactively from a higher class teacher. another example perhaps when i asked my teacher when will we learn about complex numbers? his answer: first pass A leves!(basically college in south asian countries). so this 30% was to know about complex numbers and what not, the school would be a better place. i fell a sleep in 8 clases this pass... week! when i am in brilliant, sleep is the furthest thing from my head( mostly because i already slept at class). i would love not getting bored for 1.5-3 hrs every day due to easy math. if this bill was passed though, many people would disagree, as education is but for EVERYONE to understand, not just the top 20%(in my school the teacher cannot elucidate a few problem in class to below avg students, hence making me good at elucidating stuff( i have reputation of being the biggest nerd in the school)). but if this were a debate in a competition, i would prefer to be opp(as greater chance to win) but i really support gov.

Aareyan Manzoor - 5 years, 8 months ago

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