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RE: John Saxon
Posted:
Jun 29, 1995 3:59 PM


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 4858): 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



