Fact check: Proposal would not eliminate advanced math classes in Virginia

·3 min read

The claim: Virginia schools are eliminating advanced math classes for students under 11th grade, citing "equity"

The Virginia Department of Education has announced a proposal that would "modernize and update Virginia’s mathematics curriculum" in order to prepare students for post-secondary pursuits.

A formal proposal is still under discussion, but an April 24 post made by Freedom Fights claimed the state was going to drop all advanced math classes below 11th grade "due to unequal minority representation."

The Instagram post drew nearly 9,000 likes. USA TODAY reached out to the user for comment.

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The initiative will update the high school pathway, but it won't eliminate advanced math classes for eligible students.

Pathways initiative to update math programs

The Virginia Mathematics Pathways Initiative is a joint initiative of the state education department , the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and the Virginia Community College System, according to the VDOE website.

Its goal is to create updated math instruction for students in grades K-12 to prepare them for their post-secondary education and careers.

"VMPI will increase rigor by integrating mathematical content and concepts, emphasizing reasoning and problem solving, and providing a highly-relevant experience for all students," states Virginia's education department website. "It will also include a new focus on statistical literacy, essential for success in a data-rich world."

The initiative allows students to take advanced mathematics classes according to ability and achievement, but it doesn't dictate how and when students should take these courses. That decision will come from students and school divisions based on individual learning needs.

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The pathway initiative was presented to the State Board of Education in January 2020 and is in the development stage. The changes being proposed are still under discussion and no final decisions have been made at this time.

Acceleration is not going away

"Absolutely, acceleration is NOT going away in mathematics courses in Virginia,” Virginia state schools superintendent Dr. James Lane told local news station WWBT. "If a student needs an accelerated pathway they will absolutely get it."

Lane said current discussions are focusing on including data analytics in curriculums and courseloads.

"The state Board of Education is required to review, and if necessary, revise its standards in all subject areas every seven years," Virginia Department of Education spokesperson Charles Pyle told USA TODAY via email. The pathways initiative is the beginning of the mandated process.

Pyle said the traditional high school mathematics pathway, which ends with 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," he said.

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A formal proposal won’t be presented to the state board for two years, and changes would not occur until the 2025-26 academic year, said Pyle.

Our rating: False

The claim that Virginia schools are eliminating advanced math classes prior to 11th grade citing unequal minority representation is FALSE, based on our research. The Virginia Department of Education proposed an initiative to modernize and update the mathematics curriculum, but officials say acceleration in math courses will not be going away.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Virginia not eliminating advanced math classes

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