The Criterion

Significance of Underclassmen’s Classes

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Math Analysis and College Prep are new courses that started last year. Freshmen have just started these programs and sophomores took them last year. Juniors and Seniors didn’t take these classes; instead, they had electives available to them.

We went around the school asking both students and teachers if they thought that the”extra” classes in these two subjects actually improved grades. We also asked freshmen and sophomores if they would rather have electives in place of these required classes. For juniors and seniors we asked if they think extra classes would have helped them. Upon asking many different people, we received a variety of answers.

Some students did not think that the “extra” classes helped and that they would rather take electives.“The teachers taught well enough that I didn’t have to double up on the same subject” commented J.P. Rossi ’16, junior who took Visual Arts 1 and P.E. his freshman year, “Electives help students become more well rounded individuals”. Others thought that it did help and that they would rather take “extra” classes instead of electives.

We often encountered the case where one class helped, but another did not. When we asked teachers about their opinions, they responded by saying that the classes help students who do not know or understand the basic principles of Math or English. Some students complained about how students who don’t really need the extra help have been grouped in with the students who do.

However, it seemed that almost all of the students who were interviewed agreed that there should be a balance in between. Maybe some students should have the opportunity to try electives rather than repeat a class that they are already doing well in.  If there is a student who benefits from extra classes, than they should take it.

All of the courses are important. Math analysis and college prep prepare students for the next few years of high school and help those who don’t quite understand the topic. On the other hand, electives can give students a chance to explore things that they enjoy doing.

There are some things in school that you will probably never need again once you’re done with school, but certain electives have life skills that stick with you. Every student is different and should be given classes that will benefit them not only now, but for their futures as well.

On one hand, some of our interviewees said that these extra English and Math classes helped them in those areas. Several stated that they think these classes helped them in their normal classes and on standardized tests they had to complete. They even stated that they would rather stick with these classes instead of switching them for electives. When we asked the teachers who teach Math analysis and English college prep if they thought these courses were important, the answer was an almost unanimous yes. English College Prep teachers argued that their class helps students gain a better understanding of how to write essays and short constructed responses, which is a type of essay that you have likely come across on standardized tests. Math Analysis teachers also argued that their class is important “because not all magnet schools cover all the bases of math.”

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Significance of Underclassmen’s Classes