Teaching summer school this year has caused me to ask that question over and over again. I have twelve 9th graders who need to pass my class, earth science, so they can be tenth graders next year. They've all had it before. A few I know because they went to my middle school. One of these students is here because of chronic absenteeism - just like in middle school. Another is here because she attended SIX different high schools in one year! That student has even more problems going on in her personal life that make earth science the last thing on her list of important things. More than a few are really here because they were discipline problems in the classroom. They weren't paying attention. They disrupted others. They missed class time. And when they semester ended and they were on the bubble - the bubble was popped from underneath them. Perhaps what bothers me the most are the two or three who are behind at least three grade levels in their reading and writing skills. Were they passed along? Were they written off? Why are they potential tenth graders and this hasn't been addressed?
So now, I have four and a half weeks to instill a love for something they probably hate. Honestly, that doesn't matter. My mission for the next four and half weeks is to help these kids be successful in life, whether they can repeat the theory of plate tectonics or not. That's what matters.