Date: Jun 29, 1995 3:59 PM
Author: Michael E. Lightner (305) 221-7754
Subject: RE: John Saxon

Eight years ago, I began teaching at a school (private)
that had been totally sold on Saxon. Being fresh out
of college, I had little knowledge and no experience
with the Saxon curriculum (and no other program either).

After 4 years of frustration I was able to convince the
administration it was time for a change (chose Prentice
Hall). This is what I was experiencing:

First, The students became frustrated with the text skipping
around from topic to topic -- one day they would have a lesson
on matrices and determinants and the next day a lesson on the
ellipse.

Here is the titles form Saxon's text Geometry, Trigonometry,
and Algebra III (lessons 48-58): matrices and determinants,
the ellipse, law if sines, areas of regular polygons, Cramer's
rule, combinations, trigonometric identities (I), binomial
expansion, constructions, hyperbola, and roots of complex
numbers.

There is no connection from day to day what one lesson has
to do with another.

Second, problem sets for each lesson emphasized mainly
reviewing past concepts/problems. Review is fantastic (and is
probably the only positive that I find from Saxon books).
But there is few problems associated with that days lessons --
and those that are are often the same problems from the
lesson.

Third, students who kept at it (despite their frustration)
could only do basic problems. I didn't feel that the Saxon
books challenged the students to go beyond that. And how
could they with only little reinforcement in their assign-
ments?

Finally, I found no evidence in our school for increased
standardize test scores. Students coming through the Saxon
program and going into AP Calculus were at a disadvantage.
They were not able to apply a variety of concepts/skills
supposedly learned in Alg I and II, Geometry and Trig. Also
as students moved on to the university, I found a number
of students having to take courses to boost their math
skills.

I know the above were broad sweeping generalities. I did
have some students come through the Saxon program that
were very capable of continuing on with mathematics. But
I believe it was in spite of Saxon. They would have done
well with any program.

Respectfully,

Michael Lightner
HS Mathematics Teacher
Miami Christian School
Miami, FL

LIGHTNM@mail.firn.edu