The Virginia Department of Education is eliminating accelerated math courses before 11th grade to "improve equity in mathematics learning opportunities," according to a report by Fox News.
Loudoun County school board member Ian Serotkin brought attention to the reported academic changes on Tuesday with a Facebook post exposing the plans. Serotkin warns of a "sweeping initiative by the Virginia Department of Education to revamp the K-12 math curriculum statewide over the next few years." Serotkin's post included a chart of proposed math courses for 2022-2030.
"The Virginia Mathematics Pathways Initiative (VMPI) is a joint initiative among the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) and the Virginia Community College System (VCCS)," according to the VDOE website.
The initiative set goals to redefine "mathematics pathways for students in the Commonwealth to address the knowledge, skills, experiences, and attributes that students must attain to be successful in college and/or the workforce and to be 'life ready.'" The VMPI will also "improve equity in mathematics learning opportunities" and "empower students to be active participants in a quantitative world."
"As currently planned, this initiative will eliminate ALL math acceleration prior to 11th grade," Serotkin wrote on Facebook. "That is not an exaggeration, nor does there appear to be any discretion in how local districts implement this."
Serotkin said the initiative would only allow accelerated math classes in 11th and 12th grade. "All 6th graders will take Foundational Concepts 6. All 7th graders will take Foundational Concepts 7. All 10th graders will take Essential Concepts 10," Serottkin stated. "Only in 11th and 12th grade is there any opportunity for choice in higher math courses."
VDOE spokesperson Charles Pyle did not dispute Serotkin's claims, but said the math courses would be malleable to each student's skill level. "Differentiated instruction means providing instruction that is catered to the learning needs of each child (appropriate levels of challenge and academic rigor)," Pyle told Fox News.
"The VMPI implementation team (VDOE, college and university staff, and school division staff) is currently working to seek feedback to help ensure local implementation practices address concerns like the shift from acceleration to deeper learning," Pyle added.
"Offering an inclusive learning environment that engages and challenges students of varied levels of understanding and different interests will be a focus of the common mathematics pathways proposed in grades K-10," Pyle told the news outlet. "These pathways seek to restructure mathematics education by focusing instruction on reasoning, real world problem solving, communication and connections while shifting away from an emphasis on computation and routine problem practice."
An anonymous parent of a student who attends school in Loudon County reacted to the reports of the elimination of accelerated math classes by saying, "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 unnamed parent stated.