Math labs help struggling students

Due to budget cuts, acquiring a math lab has become extremely difficult if a student has a record of doing well in math.

Ben Prengler

Due to budget cuts, acquiring a math lab has become extremely difficult if a student has a record of doing well in math.

Math labs: once an option that required some approval, now requires the approval of not only a counselor, but also an assistant principal. In the 2013-2014 school year, it began to get more difficult for students to get a math lab. However, it wasn’t until this year that the approval of an assistant principal was actually penned down in the course guide for all grade levels.

“Typically in February, all counselors are given a list of recommendations (for a math lab) by teachers and principals for students in preparation for the upcoming year,” counselor Amanda Breeden said. “They look at STAAR scores, and overall history in math to determine who was in need of a lab.”

Although the administration says that the math labs are intended for students who are struggling in math courses, some students who excel in math manage to gain entrance into the elective.

“I’m not sure how some kids with the good scores in math and the good history in math find their way into the math labs,” Breeden said. “It is definitely a case by case basis. I know some kids with several AP classes have been allowed to have a math lab. But the school is trying to get away from that idea.”

The practice of denying a student a math lab based upon their previous success in the subject does not sit well with some students.

“Even though I understand that struggling students should get priority for being in a math lab, many times the students who have good grades have to put in extra work to get those good grades,” senior Olivia Fowler said.

In addition to students who put in more work to succeed in certain math courses, many of those same students have several extracurricular activities that make keeping up with class work a bigger challenge.

I think if a student works hard, they should be allowed to have the math lab, regardless of their grade in math class.”

— Senior Olivia Fowler

“It’s hard to find time to put the same amount of effort into math as the extracurricular activities start to pile up,” Fowler said. “So I think if a student works hard, they should be allowed to have the math lab, regardless of their grade in math class.”

Despite one student’s strong feelings regarding the availability and schedule of math labs, sometimes the administration must determine which students need a lab the most.

“Your schedule, your ability, your historical grades might not determine that you need a math lab as bad as someone else,” assistant principal Bruce Coachman said. “It doesn’t mean we just say no to those students. There are many more variables that have to be considered in this process.”

However, some of the exclusivity regarding the math labs can be attributed to the recent budget cuts.

“The school has to be stricter because there are more students, less teachers, and less room,” Breeden said. “Previously, there were two Algebra 2 labs, two Pre-Cal labs, two calculus labs, and two statistics labs. This year, a math lab will have all those kids with the different math subjects in one class.”

However, there are other options for students who feel overloaded.

“Students can go to the counselors for help if a math lab is denied,” Breeden said. “They can look for some other class that won’t be as demanding on their time.”