Monday, February 08, 2016

Will You Look At That? Two Perfect Scores on AP Calculus

One student, Nick Porter at Kentridge High in Kent, got one of those perfect scores.  From the Times (bold mine):
Well, Nick Porter was one of 12 students worldwide to earn all 108 points possible on the calculus AB exam, which covers what’s in a first-semester college class. About 302,530 students took the exam, which lasted 3 hours and 15 minutes.
Two years ago, another student at the same Kent high school was one of eight people worldwide with a perfect score. So what are the odds that two students from the same high school both receive near-impossible scores within two years of each other?
About 90 percent of Kentridge calculus students pass the exam, which means they receive a score of 3 or higher. 
A student in LA, Cedrick Argueta, a senior at Lincoln High School in Lincoln Heights, was one of the other students in the world that had a perfect score.  From the LA Times:
It turned out that Cedrick, the son of a Salvadoran maintenance worker and a Filipina nurse, had scored perfectly on his Advanced Placement Calculus exam. 
Math has always just made sense to him, he said. He appreciates the creativity of it, the different methods you can take to solve a problem.

“There’s also some beauty in it being absolute,” Cedrick said. “There’s always a right answer.”
About his teacher:
On Wednesday, Cedrick hung out in the classroom of his calculus teacher, Anthony Yom, which is decked out with signs that say “Mathlife” and a picture of Homer Simpson.
All 21 of Yom’s AP Calculus students who took the exam last year passed; 17 got the highest score of 5. It was the third year in a row that all of Yom’s kids passed the test.

“I think they don’t want to disappoint each other,” Yom said. “Talent can only take you so far. These kids put in so many hours.”
From their school profile:
Abraham Lincoln High School receives Title 1 funds, approximately 90% of students participate in the federal school meal program.

Abraham Lincoln High School is an urban high school that serves a diverse population, including a relatively large number of students from low and marginal income families. 73.9% of Lincoln’s students identify as Latino or Hispanic; 22% identify as Asian; 1% identify as African American, and 1% identify as other.
And neither student is at a charter school or homeschooled.  Could it be that there are good public schools with great teachers?  Apparently so.


Anonymous said...

Here's a link about the teacher in LA:

with a quote from the principal "Principal Jose Torres, with 31 years of experience at Eastside schools, told me he tells teachers their first duty is to have faith in their students' potential, including those who live with hardship or disadvantage off campus.

"We need to make sure, once they're here, that first and foremost we believe they can learn, regardless of what background they come from," said Torres. "Anthony has taken that to heart, and other teachers have as well."

Poor kids can do well, when they're given the opportunity


Anonymous said...

Thank you for naming the teacher at fault in this amazing achievement. The news report focused only on the principal and the student, and it mentioned that another student from the same program obtained a perfect score on a previous exam. But no one mentioned the teacher. Strange how the teacher was left out of the coverage. Again, thank you for giving "props" to the man at the instructional helm.
(BTW the fault is used erroneously on purpose)

Jet City mom said...

I wonder if he would have found that " math always made sense to him", if he was taught in Seattle, and possibly even changed schools once or twice.

An elementary school teacher with a strong math background can make all the difference.
Unfortunately my child had a couple elementary teachers in a row who were upfront about their preoccupation with things other than mathematics, and admitted the class would not spend much time with math/ science. ( amazingly the teacher who did the most damage for related but different reasons not only to my child but many others, is still teaching in the district)
When that is your 4th/5th grade teachers attitude, you are at a real disadvantage later on.

Anonymous said...

Agreed JCm,

SPS drops the ball on two extremely important things that make the difference in childrens' education:

1. Stability

2. Cultivating great teaching

We also had 2 years of hopeless math teaching - and it was very damaging. Yet, one of the best math teachers in our elementary school was fired by the district for agitating for better math curriculum. The best math teachers I have seen in the district often appear under siege. Their skills are not appreciated or cultivated by the district. Instead the district favors teachers who are interchangeable cogs with no special skills or attributes that can be moved around the district like chess pieces (Banda's words) to fulfill capacity.

At this point, I will be so glad when we are through with this district - I'm advising parents with kids entering school to look elsewhere. I didn't used to feel this way but the last 5 years, under the watch of Tolley and Box. I'm through agitating for change and accountability. Run away. Fast.

-SPS parent

Anonymous said...

I thought the article stated that the first student had a math teacher that retired and the second had a newer math teacher. So there were two different Calculus teachers involved. How many Seattle high schools offer the higher level AP Calculus the kid is taking this year?


Jet City mom said...

Strong math instruction needs to start much earlier than high school.
However, while neither of my kids had Calculus in high school, they both majored in science/math in college.

Anonymous said...

@HP, Ballard, Roosevelt and Garfield all offer AP Calculus BC. Nathan Hale, Ingraham, West Seattle, and Franklin HS do not (at least according to the current year course catalogs). I haven't checked the other SPS high schools.

If students are taking Algebra I in 6th grade, the HS math pathway should include 2 years of calculus, as well as AP Stats. Otherwise these kids run out of math.

FYI, Aviation High also offers through AP Calc BC. Shoreline high schools only offer through Calc AB. Lakeside and Bush School have the most advanced math offerings (other than over on the east side), which include Multivariable Calculus.

go math!