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Virginia to drop advanced math courses before 11th grade, citing 'equity'

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 4/23/2021 Mica Soellner
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The Virginia Department of Education is seeking to eliminate its accelerated math programs below 11th grade, citing "equity" as one of the catalysts for its changes to the mathematics curriculum.

The change was presented in a Monday meeting and brought forth by Loudoun County School Board member Ian Serotkin.

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"As currently planned, this initiative will eliminate ALL math acceleration prior to 11th grade," Serotkin wrote Tuesday on Facebook. "That is not an exaggeration, nor does there appear to be any discretion in how local districts implement this."

As it stands now, Charles Pyle, a spokesman for VDOE, said: "We have students who take Algebra I in middle school and then move through Geometry, Algebra II, and advanced math courses in high school."

Staff on the Virginia Mathematics Pathway Initiative listed equity in math education as one of the reasons they are initiating changes.

"Many children can and are finding success in the structures that exist in our schools. However, we must consider changes to support improving the learning opportunities for all students," said Jennifer Allard, a high school mathematics specialist at Fairfax County Public Schools. "Many of our students do not have access to the mathematics that they will need either in their personal or professional adult lives. The issue of inequity in mathematics education makes it essential for us to initiate serious discussions among a variety of stakeholders to achieve the critical mass necessary to catalyze change in school mathematics."

Pyle said the new initiatives would take place during the 2025-2026 school year, after the next revision of mathematics standards of learning by the state Board of Education.

"The initiative as currently proposed allows for student acceleration before the 11th grade and for the traditional sequence of courses leading to calculus and other advanced courses," Pyle told the Washington Examiner. "The content of Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II would not be eliminated by VMPI. Rather, the content of these courses would be blended into a seamless progression of connected learning. This would encourage students to connect mathematical concepts and develop a deeper understanding of each concept within its context and relevance. And again, students would still be able to accelerate through the content based on their ability and achievement."

A Loudoun parent, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to Fox News, said they worried the changes would "lower standards for all students in the name of equity."

"These changes will have a profound impact on students who excel in STEM-related curriculum, weakening our country's ability to compete in a global marketplace for years to come," the parent said.

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Serotkin said he plans to request more information about the plan and discuss the matter with board and community members.

Tags: News, Virginia, Schools, Education, Education Department, Math

Original Author: Mica Soellner

Original Location: Virginia to drop advanced math courses before 11th grade, citing 'equity'

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