Virginia DOE eliminating accelerated math prior to 11th grade?



The reason being given is equity.

“Many children can and are finding success in the structures that exist in our schools. However, we must consider changes to support improving the learning opportunities for all students,” said Jennifer Allard, a high school mathematics specialist at Fairfax County Public Schools. “Many of our students do not have access to the mathematics that they will need either in their personal or professional adult lives. The issue of inequity in mathematics education makes it essential for us to initiate serious discussions among a variety of stakeholders to achieve the critical mass necessary to catalyze change in school mathematics.”


So they’re penalizing kids who are good in math, rather than focusing on helping those kids who struggle with math? Seems about right for a government policy. Hopefully this is confined to VA.


A disaster for the state and for the country.


I fear it’s a national trend . It’s called “detracking” and advocated by many math education experts . It’s already set in San Francisco and some other places. If you live in a blue state like I do, it will eventually make it there. In the SF report, the authors were overjoyed the average scores in Algebra 1 went up miraculously after the detracking. ( I assume the above average kids are boosting the average in the algebra 1 class they’re stuck in.) So , what’s not to like.

There are multiple issues going on here. I teach math at a university which gets most of its students from school districts where there is limited tracking. Also,there is a shortage of math teachers at these school districts. These students lag in math prep compared to even the average student at the more affluent district where my kid attends.

So there is an obvious equity issue, but
the solution is to hold back the acceleration by government edict?? Makes no sense, but it’s a quick “fix”. Many well to do parents will simply accelerate via online classes or private tutoring etc. I expect to see an explosion of those .

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I’ll never understand the incessant tinkering with math curriculum. My S17 went thru that everyday math disaster a while back. Guess it’s easier single out mathematics to make changes because it’s really the only subject that is tracked and each year is a distinct subset of math. Agreed that the reality is that affluent parents will either send their kids to private school or hire tutors to keep their kids on the accelerated track. And what happens to all the kids looking to be engineers, CS, etc…that require advanced math. And how will the US kids compete with the international student applicants who weren’t handicapped the same way? Just so short-sighted…smh.


It is a shame, Virginia once had really strong public schools. I suppose at one time SF did, too. Well, there should be a surge of interest in private and parochial schools there.

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Private schools are going to explode with applications.


As an Asian American, this feels like a good example of systemic racism.


I had the same thought.

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Just another reason I am so glad mine are out of our school system. Just wow. I do wonder if they will still have advanced versions of the same thing, or will all kids be lumped together even in high school? In my kids’ high school, this would be a disaster.

“Let’s slow down our best and brightest so we can make everyone equal”?

This is both sad and pathetic.

As a non-Asian-American with a daughter who finished Calculus in 10th grade, I find the above comment interesting. Do you think non-Asian-Americans don’t accelerate in math?


One of the things that bothers the “reformers” is that many of the students excelling in math in the city schools, like NY or SF ,are of Asian descent but low-income. This key issue is never addressed in any of these reports, even though it shows up in all their data.

Anyway, finding free high quality math stuff online is pretty easy. I don’t expect many Asian American parents to be easily deterred by this latest “Harrison Bergeron” move.

I think the policymakers who come up with this kind of stuff have limited understanding of the education ethic in Asian cultures. Poverty is not an excuse to these families. My family immigrated to the US in the 70’s from India with very little, so I am very familiar with this type of thinking.


This is just one example of holding back high performing students to make it appears like the whole is doing better. You can’t improve everyone by limiting some. Help those that are struggling but let the high performers soar.


As an Asian American, I do feel that we are somehow treated as overachievers or “try hards” or tiger parents etc. , in a pejorative sense. My own kid was asked in history class by the teacher “if he did math since he was 3 years old”.No white kid was asked that. (He was featured in school news for getting a perfect math sat score. And no, he has not been “tigered”)

Of course these detracking efforts affect all students that are advanced. However, there is a different perception directed towards Asian Americans.

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It’s sad that Asian Americans are somehow seen as a threat because of some of their academic achievements as a group. I know high achievers in all races. Sadly policies that limit high achievers end up affecting people of all races. Even if one race or another is historically “better” at something, why should they be limited in the name of equity?

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I’ll give one example.

My son went to a very good elementary school. I researched schools in our city from the time we were pregnant with him and zeroed in on this one fairly early. The first year, we lost the preK lottery, but he got in for K. When 3rd grade rolled around, they announced which kids would be in advanced classes.

First, I’d like to say how ridiculous it is that public school systems choose which 3rd graders to fast track and which to leave behind. Second, my son was an exceptional math student as a 2nd grader. Third, there is minimal “testing” for this decision. Mostly, 2nd grade teachers recommend students at the end of 2nd grade, and 3rd grade teachers more or less rubber stamp the decision.

In a school that was more or less 1/3 white, 1/3 Hispanic, 1/3 African-American, the advanced classes were 90% white. Not coincidentally, the PTA was 90% white, and nearly every child of a PTA parent was chosen for the advance classes.

Fast foward to middle school. By 6th grade, the advanced students are taking pre-algebra, and a few 7th graders are taking 9th grade math. All 8th grade middle school advanced students are taking no less than 9th grade math. In high school, no student who wasn’t fast tracked in the 3rd grade can take Calculus B/C or AP level math. The actual number may not be zero percent, but it isn’t much more.

This is not merit and it is not equity. This is not an isolated situation. It is documented in states and school districts across the country. Naturally many who have benefited from this inequity wish to see it remain in place. Sometimes the response is “why should all have to suffer?” I ask instead, “why not create a public school system that works to benefit more students?”

I don’t understand why the same energy put into pie-grabbing opportunities for their childrens’ education can’t be redirected to help their children by helping ensure equitable educational opportunities for all children. One solution might be to double the number of advanced classrooms. Another might be to use a lottery to place 3rd graders in the advanced classes. After all, personalized low-teacher-to-student teaching would help any student, not just the ones whose parents finagled a 3rd grade advantage.

There are studies that prove that many parents effectively create a private-school experience for a handful of kids within select public schools. Basically these parents ensure their students are the ones in the AP classes, sometimes they even choose which AP classes are offered. While it is great for their students, the entire system is created and maintained because of inequity. They get the private school experience, but get the public to pay for it at the expense of 90-95% of public school students who were unfairly shut out of that fast track long before high school.

It is not the desire for equity that should be blamed for Virginia’s decision. It is the desire to end inequity.

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The first time I realized there were different tracks for students was in fifth grade. I had wanted to be in a neighbors class that taught fifth grade but was told I was in the smarter class. I was from a very low income family but I guess I performed well.

In middle school we had three different “tracks” in each grade. A basic, regular and advanced track. Students were divided into these tracks and attended corresponding math, English, science and social studies courses. I was in the advanced group there. I say this just to provide an anecdotal example that income level of doesn’t necessarily equal performance.

While I’m sure there are instances where individual students are misidentified and there could possibly be better grouping of kids I don’t see how suddenly combining the “basic, regular and advanced” students into the exact same learning rate helps anyone. In fact unless the classes are slowed down to the “basic” level it certainly hurts the majority. That’s not equity.

In reading some of the other information, it looks like there is still path to Calculus in High School.

Why is the answer to slow it down for everyone? How about accelerate it for everyone?

Also parents are able to participate in the public school forum. They can attend school board meetings, PTA meetings, meet with the principal or guidance counselors regarding their child’s placement. They can run for election to the school board. I’m just puzzled why the answer is to treat all students the same.