Acceleration isn’t the same as progress

Stephanie Hays

As students now have the options to take advanced classes earlier and earlier in school, there ought to be one important question on everyone’s minds: “Is this actually benefitting our students?”

Currently, students are learning more advanced concepts earlier ; most kids now enter into their freshman year starting with geometry instead of the typical algebra, and eighth graders now have the option to take biology, a class previously almost taken exclusively by tenth graders. Personally, I don’t think this change is helping the student body, nor do I think it will ultimately benefit society.

Students who learn the material at an earlier age are unable to cover the same breadth of knowledge or go as in depth in the topic because they lack the intellectual capacity. While students are supposedly covering the same amount of material earlier, its improbable they are gaining the knowledge they really need. Because of their young age, they will be unable to go as in depth or cover the same amount of material that older students can.

This problem is only magnified when classes build on information previously learned, such as math classes. Establishing a strong foundation is crucial to mathematics and science and forcing students to take it at an earlier age can weaken their ability to accurately and efficiently understand higher level material.

However, I’m not saying we should abolish the new math standards. Since students still take Algebra A and B over the course of two years, they are able to build a good foundation for higher level classes. In other areas though, it’s important to not be pushing students into advanced classes that they are not prepared to take.

Science, I believe, is the main problem. With children being able to take biology at the 8th grade level, they will be able to take chemistry coming into their freshman year. However, colleges often require students to have taken biology, chemistry, and physics. Since students are taking these classes much earlier than most other students, they are no longer proficient in the material due to the amount of time passed since taking the class, and the lack of depth when learning the material.

I took Biology when I was in the tenth grade and I don’t think I’m disadvantaged because of it. I remember biology enough that it helps me in AP Environmental Science which draws heavily on the ecological topics covered in biology. If I had taken Biology in eighth grade, I seriously doubt I would remember anything from that class, requiring more studying and relearning of the material.

Most of the time parents and educators are pushing students into taking the advanced course. They want their students to learn more material early in life because they have the illusion that it will help their student get into college or be smarter. But what we are failing to realize is that it is more important to learn the material well, not earlier. Taking biology, or algebra, or chemistry later in a student’s career is more beneficial to them; they will be able to cover more material and think critically about it, instead of merely scraping the surface.