I am currently teaching three sections of a low-level Algebra II class. It is becoming more and more clear to me that many of these students really should not have passed Pre-Algebra. The material I am teaching/reviewing now is similar to what was taught in that course. Yet it seems like no matter how I try to teach it they just don’t get it. It’s driving me (and them) nuts and killing my (and their) confidence.

I am having trouble on many levels with these students.

1 - They don’t remember old material.

Most of what I am teaching now is a review of concepts they should have learned in Pre-Algebra and then again in Algebra I. This is not new stuff. Yet they treat it as if it is brand new and really horribly difficult. I checked with their old teachers and they definitely taught these concepts so it’s not that they just didn’t get to it.

2 – They don’t speak up when they need help.

Except for a few students (out of 70 or so) the students do not come in outside of class for extra help. This one-on-one time would be very beneficial but they consistently choose not to take advantage of it. I have offered my help during lunch and after school. I also set up peer tutors during lunch.

3 – They do not study (at least not well) for tests and quizzes.

I have gone out of my way to make comprehensive study guides for each assessment detailing exactly what they need to know along with practice problems that correspond with the concepts. When I ask the students if they studied for the test many (if not most) will say they did very little studying.

I am at my wits end at where to go with these students. One option is to switch gears entirely and re-teach them Pre-Algebra. This would be good for the majority of the students who need it but horrible for those students who have at least some understanding of the material and are fully deserving of a thorough Algebra II course.

I have requested a meeting with my supervisor and eagerly await his feedback. In the meantime I am hopeful that someone here can give me some input as well.