Virginia intends to eliminate accelerated math in order to achieve equity.
On April 23rd, Fox News’s “The Ingraham Angle” covered a story claiming the Virginia Department of Education intends to eliminate the option to take accelerated math before 11th grade. Fox stated that the move intends to increase equality but will result in “effectively keeping higher-achieving students from advancing as they usually would.” They sourced their information from a Facebook post by Loudoun County, Virginia school board member Ian Sarotkin (which has since been updated). The story began to spread on Twitter and users criticized the approach.
Misbar found Fox News’s claims to be misleading. The State Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane said in a news conference, “Absolutely 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.”
Current changes are part of a regular revision which happens every seven years. The VDOE (Virginia Department of Education) says that their Mathematics Pathways Initiative is still in development. They are joining many states in rethinking the way they teach math, so that students can better apply these skills to the real world. The misleading claims may be an interpretation of the VDOE’s proposal to place a stronger emphasis on data analytics, rather than on traditional upper division math courses. The VDOE is using empirical research and has received support from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics for their proposed changes. They are welcoming and soliciting feedback for the changes and will use the feedback in any decisions.
The VDOE wishes to stress that any proposed changes are in an effort to better prepare students for education after high school, as a marked lack of foundational knowledge is the biggest hurdle for students. The changes in this one proposal offer students the chance to build extremely strong foundational math skills and then focus on several different areas in grade 11 and 12, with an emphasis on allowing students to choose classes based on their after school goals. Instead of fast-tracking advanced students, it would raise the standards for all students, exactly contrary to Fox News’s assumptions on the purpose.
Virginia ranks 10th in the United States for the quality of their education and they seek only to improve that number further. In a country struggling to maintain the 30th rank out of 35 countries graded in math globally, a reassessment of education approaches seems reasonable.