Democratic-run state’s equity-focused plan will nix accelerated math courses

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) is preparing to do away with all accelerated math options before the 11th grade under an equity-focused plan that would prevent gifted students from advancing at their own pace in the school system.

Loudoun County school board member Ian Serotkin was apparently alarmed by the move and referenced it on Facebook Tuesday: “During last night’s Curriculum & Instruction Committee meeting, we received a briefing from staff on the Virginia Mathematics Pathways Initiative (VMPI), a sweeping initiative by the Virginia Department of Education to revamp the K-12 math curriculum statewide over the next few years.”

Serotkin explained what the initiative entails: “That being said…as currently planned, this initiative will eliminate ALL math acceleration prior to 11th grade. That is not an exaggeration, nor does there appear to be any discretion in how local districts implement this. All 6th graders will take Foundational Concepts 6. All 7th graders will take Foundational Concepts 7. All 10th graders will take Essential Concepts 10. Only in 11th and 12th grade is there any opportunity for choice in higher math courses.”

Then the school board member expressed his outrage over the proposed change more directly: “My first reaction to this was that it seemed absolutely bananas, and that it sets a soft cap on the number of higher math courses students are going to be able to take. My second reaction was to wonder which outside math learning franchises (Kaplan, Mathnasium, etc.) are publicly traded, because I foresee their stock soaring.”

(Video Credit: Fox News)

Serotkin plans on asking for more information and further explanation concerning the move at next week’s board meeting. He also included a chart in the post that shows math courses scheduled for 2022-2030. Many parents see this as negatively impacting their children’s future.

VDOE spokesperson Charles Pyle told Fox News that the planned courses would accommodate some advancement depending on the skill level of the student: “Differentiated instruction means providing instruction that is catered to the learning needs of each child (appropriate levels of challenge and academic rigor),” Pyle claimed.

The website for VDOE displays an infographic that shows that the Virginia Mathematics Pathways Initiative would mandate “concepts” courses for each separate grade level. Goals include vague concepts such as “[e]mpower students to be active participants in a quantitative world,” “[i]dentify K-12 mathematics pathways that support future success,” and “[i]mprove equity in mathematics learning opportunities.”

A member of an “essential concepts” committee said in a webinar in December of 2020 that the new framework would eliminate traditional classes like Algebra 1 and Geometry.

Committee member Ian Shenk noted: “Let me be totally clear, we are talking about taking Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2 – those three courses that we’ve known and loved … and removing them from our high school mathematics program, replacing them with essential concepts for grade eight, nine, and 10.”

He also posited that the concepts courses wouldn’t do away with algebraic ideas but instead insert multiple strands of mathematics into the courses including functions and algebra, data analysis, mathematical modeling, spatial reasoning, and probability.

Parents are very concerned about equity and race being inserted into learning curriculums in the state. One parent voiced concerns that 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 anonymous parent explained to Fox News.

Ian Prior, who is the parent of a Loudoun student and a former Trump administration official, referred to the move as a way to “stifle advancement for gifted students and set them back as they prepare for advanced mathematics in college. This is critical race theory in action and parents should be outraged.”

Pyle tersely commented when asked to further explain the changes: “Differentiated instruction is designed to provide the appropriate levels of challenge and academic rigor for each student.” He called the changes a path to “deeper learning.”

“For many years, parents and the system have valued and rewarded speed via acceleration and ‘covering content’ rather than depth of understanding. The Virginia Mathematics Pathway Initiative shifts to a focus on and value for deeper learning through differentiated instruction on grade level that will promote student development of critical thinking, authentic application, and problem-solving skills,” Pyle declared.

He also claimed that VMPI “aims to support increased differentiated learning opportunities within a heterogeneous learning environment, that will promote greater access to advanced mathematical learning for all students before high school graduation.”

“Shifting to deeper learning through differentiated instruction, implementation of VMPI will promote student development of critical thinking, authentic application, and problem-solving skills,” he intoned.

“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 … 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,” Pyle contended.

He added: “VMPI implementation teams continue to work on addressing these considerations while moving forward to improve equity in mathematics opportunities for all students. VMPI Community meetings being offered this spring are intended to provide initial information regarding the initiative, but also be a venue in which feedback can be collected.”

Virginia is also considering nixing advanced high school diplomas in an effort to improve equity among students.

Journalist Megyn Kelly stated: “Only when the schools that keep advanced classes pummel these woke-but-less-competitive Virginia kids in college admissions will the VA parents care.”

Commenters shared her outrage on Twitter over the educational developments in Virginia:

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