‘Acceleration is not going away’: Virginia Department of Education discussing future of mathematics in schools

Updated: Apr. 26, 2021 at 10:22 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Virginia state superintendent says families do not need to worry about accelerated math courses being eliminated within schools. Concerned families had been worried after hearing of the possibility of accelerated courses being eliminated prior to the 11th grade.

“Absolutely, acceleration is NOT going away in mathematics courses in Virginia, if a student needs an accelerated pathway they will absolutely get it,” said Superintendent Dr. James Lane.

Lane says there may have been confusion following conversations about the Virginia Department of Education’s, Virginia Mathematics Pathways Initiative (VMPI).

“The Virginia Mathematics Pathways Initiative (VMPI) is a joint initiative of the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) and the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) to consider how to modernize and update math instruction to Virginia’s K-12 students to prepare them all to be life ready and succeed in their post-secondary pursuits,” VDOE wrote online. “VMPI is a proposal to modernize and update Virginia’s mathematics curriculum in grades K-12 to align instruction with the essential knowledge and skills students need to succeed in the 21st-century economy. The proposals would update Virginia’s Mathematics Standards of Learning and Virginia’s public school divisions would then be responsible for creating courses and designing curricula to implement those state standards, as they do now.”

Lane says no changes will be made to the state’s math requirement any time soon, right now VMPI is in the discussion and workshopping phase. Lane says discussions right now include adding a focus on data analytics in curriculums as well as course loads that help prepare students for post-secondary education and careers.

“We are not eliminating accelerated courses we are not reducing rigor in the program, and with the focus on data analytics, we are increasing more rigorous opportunities for students we are not eliminating paths to calculus and we are increasing pathways students may want to choose,” said Lane.

More information from VMPI:

  • VMPI maintains Virginia’s rigorous mathematics instruction for all students and strives to provide all students with opportunities to receive high-quality, highly relevant math instruction that is tailored to their specific post-secondary goals.
  • The implementation of VMPI would still allow for student acceleration in mathematics content according to ability and achievement. It does not dictate how and when students take specific courses. Those decisions remain with students and school divisions based on individualized learning needs.
  • The traditional high school pathway culminating in the study of Calculus or other advanced courses is not being eliminated. Additional course pathways will include engaging semester courses in statistics, data science, modeling, design, and logic, among others.
  • Local school divisions will still have plenty of flexibility to create courses aligned to the standards to meet the needs of all students and provide opportunities for all students to advance through the curriculum based on their learning needs. School divisions will also be able to offer advanced sections and acceleration through the courses.
  • VMPI will increase rigor by integrating mathematical content and concepts, emphasizing reasoning and problem solving, and providing a highly relevant experience for all students. It will also include a new focus on statistical literacy, essential for success in a data-rich world.
  • VMPI proposes math standards in kindergarten through high school that focus on reasoning, real-world problem solving, communication, and conceptual connections while shifting away from an emphasis on computation and routine problem practice.
  • The VMPI initiative imagines math instruction for students that integrates existing math content into blended courses for students typically in grades 8-10.
  • The content from Algebra 1, Geometry and Algebra 2 is not being eliminated by VMPI, but rather the content of these courses will be blended into a seamless progression of connected learning. This encourages students to connect mathematical concepts and develop a much deeper and more relevant understanding of each concept within its context and relevance.
  • VMPI envisions additional and innovative opportunities for students to access content that is not currently widely available to all students. This foundation can then be built upon with specific coursework tailored to post-secondary goals.

Lane says they are looking for feedback and suggestions from the community as VDOE continues to work on the VMPI, they are asking anyone interested to email vdoe.mathematics@doe.virginia.gov. The proposed timeline would not implement new Mathematics Standards of Learning in classrooms until 2025-2026.

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