Speeding Up the Learning Curve

Students wonder about accelerated courses in different subjects


Photo: Henry He

A photo of a math textbook meant for students of higher levels.

With half the school year over in a blink of an eye, and the other half coming soon, the faculty will have to decide the placements of math and language students. In other classes, however, there aren’t any accelerated options, meaning that students cannot move up to a higher class regardless of their skill levels.
Pam Simpson, a middle school geometry and algebra teacher new to University Prep this year, thinks that accelerated learning for mathematics is a great idea.
“We get to explore some things a little more sometimes because the students are ready for it,” Simpson said. “It’s more geared towards the students.”

Isaac Lavely, an eighth grader in Algebra 1 this year, thinks that accelerated math is a good idea as well.
“Accelerated courses in mathematics have proven to be successful, so why can’t that same success carry over to different parts of our education?” Lavely asked.
At UPrep, only the math and language department offer accelerated courses. Penelope Woodman, an eighth grader who is currently in Spanish 3, addresses her opinion on the lack of accelerated courses for different subjects.
“I think it’s a little unfair,” Woodman said. “I know some people personally that have tried to go into high school classes and did not get considered.”
Woodman guessed that accelerated classes could potentially cause a lot of scheduling issues, though.
In Lavely’s opinion, the school should try to overcome roadblocks like scheduling issues so that the school can offer accelerated courses to other topics.
“Educational systems should not restrict gifted individuals who wish to excel in their learning careers,” Lavely said.
The main issue, however, isn’t scheduling. Susie Wu, the director of middle school, thinks that the reason there is no accelerated learning in courses like science is very simple.
“There’s not a demand for it, and there’s no need because everybody cycles through the same [topics],” Wu said.
In the end, however, some people believe that there isn’t such things as “accelerated classes”. Joel Sohn, the director of upper school, agrees with that statement.
“We don’t have an accelerated math program. What we do have is a math program that meets the needs of students where they are,” Sohn said. “I don’t call that accelerated math, just math.”