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VDOE: Accelerated Math Not Being Eliminated

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Virginia education officials attempted to reassure families, saying accelerated math courses are not being eliminated as standards of learning are developed.

“Virginia is not doing anything right now in this space, because we are literally just having conversations with the community about what they want in the next set of revisions,” said James Lane, the Superintendent of Public Instruction in a press briefing Monday. "Acceleration is not going away in mathematics courses in Virginia. If a student needs an accelerated pathway, they will absolutely be able to do that.”

The Virginia Math Pathways Initiative is a cooperative effort between the Virginia Department of Education, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, and the Virginia Community College System to nail down what kind of math skills colleges and employers want from students and incorporate that into revised standards of learning for math, which are due in 2023. Those revisions are routine. Every seven years Virginia revises the standards of learning.

Conservative media and politicians said VMPI was moving towards eliminating accelerated math courses for all students before the 11th grade, and framed the move as sacrificing some students’ learning in order to close equity gaps.

“Equity appears more and more to mean that everyone needs to be equally ill-prepared, rather than have the equality of opportunity for which we should all strive as a society,” said House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert in a statement. “Lowering standards and expectations is never the right choice when it comes to our children’s future.”

Standards of learning are what local school districts use as a reference point as they make their own programs. Department of Education officials say there isn’t a proposal yet. Currently the standards have a sequence of classes that teaches Algebra, Geometry and then another Algebra class.

Tina Mazzacane, VDOE’s K12 Math coordinator, said the standards under discussion in VMPI wouldn’t be eliminated, during a community briefing on Tuesday night. 

“The content of these isolated courses will be blended into a seamless progression of connected learning in the essential concept course sequence,” Mazzacane said. 

The idea is that this blending will keep students from being locked into a specific math track and orient students into data science, in keeping with workforce and higher education demands. Local school districts can still create accelerated math programs, no matter what standards are implemented, VDOE officials said, and these discussions likely won’t translate into classroom content until 2025.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Jahd Khalil is a reporter and producer in Richmond.
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