Interest Grows for Higher Level Math Courses

by Katie Gough ‘23

In a survey given to AP Calculus BC students, 16 juniors across the two classes expressed interest in taking a multivariable calculus course their senior year.
The higher-level math classes currently offered at Sherwood are AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, and AP Statistics. Many Sherwood students who were placed on an accelerated math track in elementary or middle school choose to take an AP calculus course their junior year after finishing pre-calculus their sophomore year. These students, especially those who take BC, can feel at a loss for options their senior year to fulfill their math requirement.

“If a student is a junior taking BC Calculus, the only other option they have at Sherwood is AP Statistics. That could be a good track for some students but it’s not the right track for all students,” said Heather Baxter, who teaches BC Calculus at Sherwood. Especially for students who want to major in a STEM field, including engineering, missing a year of calculus could mean forgetting skills that they need for advanced college math courses.

While Sherwood students have the opportunity to take a multivariable calculus class at Montgomery College (MC) their senior year, many choose not to because they either cannot find transportation to an MC campus or do not want to deal with the difficulties of taking a virtual course. Having a multivariable class at Sherwood would allow students to take a full schedule of classes here their senior year.
Arjun Sharma, a senior who took Multivariable Calculus at MC, agrees that there should be a multivariable class offered at Sherwood. “I feel like when you have the availability in person, more people will go to the class,” said Arjun.

For Sherwood to offer a multivariable class, demand would need to continue to grow over the next few years, meaning that more students would need to become comfortable enough with calculus to want to pursue it at a higher level.

Taking a higher-level math course in high school provides students the opportunity to familiarize themselves with difficult concepts while having access to one-on-one support from their teachers. Offering a multivariable calculus class at Sherwood would make college level calculus accessible and convenient for students, helping them prepare for their future education and career while taking a full schedule of high school classes.