The Accelerated Math Program: Boom or Bust?
There has been some recent controversy surrounding Sleepy Hollow’s relatively new accelerated math program, specifically surrounding its option to “double accelerate” in high school. The double acceleration is called the “three-in-two” program because it requires students to learn three years of math in two years. Students in this program will have taken Algebra I in eighth grade, Geometry in ninth grade, Algebra II and Pre-Calculus in tenth grade, Calculus in eleventh grade, and a math class of their choosing (or none at all) in twelfth grade by the time of graduation. Students who start the program in ninth grade will follow that same trajectory, taking everything a year later and finishing with Calculus senior year.
Mrs. Walsh, the head of the math department, says the program was devised to create “more opportunities for everybody to reach their potential and get what they needed” due to the previous system having some issues. In the past, advanced math students had started taking honors math in seventh grade, and took the next level up each successive year, finishing with Calculus in senior year. However, that made it very hard for students who had not been accelerated in seventh grade to accelerate at any other point, and the drop-out rate for Calculus was fairly high. The new program shores students up on middle-school math to remedy these problems, and is intended to increase access to taking Calculus.
While the new approach may create more opportunities for students, it has been criticized for being overly aggressive and excessively difficult. Most students on the three-in-two track agree that it is immensely stressful, and puts a lot of pressure on the student. One student has called it “an incredibly difficult curriculum,” and another said they “hated the workload.” There are also many students who feel trapped between two undesirable options: the too-difficult advanced classes, or the less engaging, more fundamental classes. “It takes away the middle option,” one student explained. However, the challenging curriculum has also allowed some students to flourish. “It has allowed me to pursue my love of math at a rigorous and engaging level,” enthused one student. Ultimately, the math department is still open to changes and suggestions, and would love feedback from students. “We need to make sure that it was a positive experience. We’ll be evaluating all of that, and probably making some shifts again,” said Mrs. Walsh.