Putting the Brakes on Accelerating in Mathematics | Josh Berberian | 5 Min Read

May 22, 2023

“My child is bored in 6th-grade math and I would like them to take Algebra I over the summer.” This is a request that I have heard dozens of times over the past decade, which is dozens more times than I ever heard this request thirty years ago. I am a recovering math department chair of fourteen years, and even four years removed from that role, this type of request still makes me lament the state of mathematics education. Unfortunately, mathematics has become a mechanism for parents and caregivers to credential their children with little concern for cultivating in their child a healthy curiosity and wonder about all of the beauty that mathematics beholds. 

Admittedly, for a handful of students, acceleration might be the right option. However, once you squeeze the acceleration “tube of toothpaste” there is no going back. Once the door is open, many more parents and caregivers will see accelerating through math as a means for academically advantaging their child, and the most accelerated student will become the “new normal” for what parents consider to be appropriate course placement in mathematics (and it is interesting to note that of all the placements I…

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Josh Berberian

Josh Berberian currently serves as the Director of Institutional Researcher at The Episocpal Academy, where he also works in the Center for Teaching and Learning and teaches statistics. Over his thirty years in education he has worked at St. Thomas Choir School, Poly Prep, and Shipley, taking on roles including chairing the mathematics department, overseeing faculty mentoring, leading faculty research groups, and designing and facilitating professional development for colleagues. He has presented at regional and national mathematics conferences, as well as conferences for institutional research.