Hi there. In this education post, I cover the topic of online math courses running at a fast pace. The motivation behind this post is based from my Mathnasium work. A couple of students in elementary and high school have stated that their math courses are running at a fast pace online. The pace is that fast to the point where there are math tests occurring every week instead of every one a half week or a test every two weeks.
Some schools are running regular semestered schooling while some are doing quadmesters. There would be 4 quadmesters which have two courses each versus two semesters with 4 courses each.
A few high school students from my work have stated that the math courses are at a faster pace. This is mostly due to Toronto's quadmester system instead of running the standard two semesters.
This post will provide some additional context on Toronto schools and what students are facing with adjusted math classes that are mainly online. Note that as I have anecdotal information, this information is a very small sample of what goes on in Toronto.
Toronto's Quadmester System Instead of Two Semesters For High School
For many high school students in Toronto, they follow a two semester system for the school year. Each semester consists of four courses which lasts about 5 months. The first semester is from September to the end of January of the following year. Semester two is from February to late June.
To adjust with lockdowns, Toronto has implemented a quadmester system. High school students follow four quads/periods in a school year instead of the usual two semesters. Each quad lasts about 9 weeks in length. In addition, each quadmester focuses on two courses. These two courses are at a faster pace versus each course under the semester system. Here is a screenshot of the quadmester system from the Toronto School board website.
Most of the courses are taught online. Some schools are adopting a system where every other day is in-class instruction and the other days are online teaching. In-class learning is possible without government lockdowns.
A Math Test Every Week
From a few students that I work with at my Mathnasium online work, a small sample of students have been mentioning that they have a math test every week under the quadmester system. The math courses must run faster with even more material covered to such a point that there is a math test every week. It is not known from my understanding if there are final exams. I think one math student mentioned about no final math exams.
With this fast pacing, math homework and practice become even more important. Laziness is heavily punished here. I hate to say this but if
you fall behind, you stay behind..
I do not have information on how these faster math courses are taught. Is it taught well online? Is it rushed? Are some topics skipped? Who knows. There could be some students who can feel lost from the math classes if the math teaching is not good or is too fast.
Students With Weak Algebra Skills Are At a Disadvantage
The one part of mathematics that takes a lot of time of practice to develop is algebra skills. If a course is running that fast, there is not much time to develop algebra skills to the point where there are less mistakes and where the speed is fast. I do think that those with weak algebra skills would fall behind. They would have to worry about understanding new concepts on top of improving their algebra. As a former teaching assistant, I knew of students who understood concepts but could not execute due to poor algebra skills. It is like understanding how to cook a certain recipe but not doing well on the doing part ends up with a not so good meal.
The fast pacing of these math courses online does provide challenges for students. A fast math course is better than having no math class from a learning perspective. Those who can handle the fast pacing of these adjusted math courses should do okay with adjusting from high school courses to university courses.