Archive for Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Math class no concern for coaches

February 20, 2002

Tonganoxie High School athletic teams might have lower numbers at the start of some practices in the fall.

Last week, Tonganoxie High School implemented extended class time for students who score unsatisfactory numbers in state assessment tests.

The extra class time would occur from 3:15 p.m. to 4 p.m. on six consecutive Wednesdays in the fall. Athletic practices usually begin at 3:30 p.m., so students involved in sports who have to take the extra class would miss a portion of practice on Wednesdays.

Tonganoxie football coach Mark Elston said he was in favor of the measure.

"From a coach's standpoint, you just have to work around it," Elston said. "Not every kid's going to be a Phi Theta Kappa in math, but those kids with a few difficulties at least know now what the consequences are. You don't do just the bare minimum to get by."

Sophomores take the state assessment test each year, so the extra class would affect juniors in the fall.

In 2000, 21 percent of Tonganoxie High School sophomores had unsatisfactory scores, while the percentage jumped to 25 last spring.

THS cross country coach Phil Williams said that although students would miss some practice, they wouldn't miss the entire session.

"Well, obviously academics have to come first," said Williams, who is also a math instructor at the high school. "Hopefully this will be enough motivation that they won't need it."

Williams didn't see the scoring problems to be long-term, but rather a slump of sorts.

"Just like in sports, you have down years," Williams said. "Some years are stronger, some are down a little."

Elston, who is employed at Community National Bank, monitors his players' schoolwork even though he is not a teacher. He keeps tabs on student's progress by talking to THS instructors.

"I check their grades and I talk with their teachers," Elston said. "I ask them to contact me because I can always encourage them through a little extracurricular activity."

Whether the measure will affect athletes in the fall won't be known until after tests are taken in the spring.

Elston said the move will be helpful in the long run.

"Any time we can raise the standard it might hinder a few folks in the beginning," Elston said, "But it helps sports and it helps the team."

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