Virginia defends proposed changes to high school math courses

The Virginia Department of Education appeared to be clearing up its plans to eliminate advanced math before the 11th grade during a news conference Monday.

The department says it does not plan on getting rid of accelerated math courses for students.

The proposal, which is a part of a program called the Virginia Mathematics Pathways Initiative, includes reworking eighth, ninth and 10th grade math courses to include subjects like data science and data analytics.

Students would still be able to take higher-level courses if suitable and the content could merge a bit. School districts would also have discretion in how they go about implementing the curriculum.

The announcement follows backlash received after news outlets reported on the proposed change.

Loudoun County School Board member Ian Serotkin also posted on Facebook about the possible curriculum change, saying “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.”

However, State Superintendent James Lane said the reports were not an accurate representation of the board’s discussions and that he was worried that people are misinterpreting things.

Following the press conference, Serotkin posted an update on Facebook that said “some parts of this are quite different from their previous messaging and information provided, and alleviates much of my concern.”

The Loudoun County School Board will discuss the plan at a meeting Tuesday.

Virginia’s Department of Education said it is in the process of revising its Standards of Learning, as it does every seven years.

Officials recently started brainstorming ways Virginia could better prepare students for the workforce and college through mathematics courses.

The department is currently gathering public feedback.

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