The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Reports Allay Worries About Science Pass Rates

When grades came in at the end of second semester last year, the Science Department became concerned with the number of students failing its courses. Students who cannot pass basic science classes are unable to meet basic graduation requirements. However, on Wednesday, November 5 the Science Department received statistics from the first quarter of this school year that indicated a significant drop in the number of failing students. These statistics did not account for the first semester final or second quarter grades.

Once last year’s statistics were reported, the Leadership Team looked to have the Science Department re-evaluate its methods. The Science Department increased the amount of visual aids for first quarter, but did not make any changes to the curriculum itself.

“[The visual aids] can’t be the reason for why we are seeing such an improvement,” Science Department Head Danielle Paige said. “We’ve just started the discussion process on how we could fix the number of students meeting the requirements, so it seems ironic that the numbers would drop so drastically.”

While the Science Department will further investigate the causes behind last year’s numbers, it is now unlikely that any significant changes will be made to the curriculum.

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According to Paige, the Science Department’s concern with students not meeting the A-G requirements was more of an issue for students enrolled in Earth Science and biology. Last year, 37 percent of Earth Science students and 31 percent of biology students received a D grade or lower. This year’s reports indicate that 16 percent of Earth Science students and 14 percent of biology students are receiving a D grade or lower.

“For last year, yes, I can see a reason why we would be reactionary to the numbers,” Paige said. “But this quarter’s results have shown a major improvement despite the fact that we have barely made any changes.”

The Science Department remains curious as to why last year’s numbers contrast this year’s. Paige credits the Counseling Department.

“We feel that the Counseling Department has done a really great job with placing students in the right courses this year,” Paige said. “It could be a reason for why we have seen such an improvement.”

While the Science Department is pleased with the first quarter improvement, it is not ignoring last year’s reports. Having already incorporated more visual aids into its lessons, it is still seeking a way to further help students meet graduation requirements.

Approximately 101 out of 353 seniors from the Class of 2008 did not meet the A-G requirements. Sixty-eight were students in Special Education, ELD, Transfer, AVID or a combination of these classes.

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