State Superintendent responds to math acceleration controversy following board member’s Facebook post

Education

LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Department of Education says it’s setting the record straight about accelerated math courses after a conflicting social media post from a school board member.

Ian Serotkin, a member of the Loudoun County school board, posted on Facebook last week that accelerated math classes would not be offered to students before 11th grade. At first the post praised parts of a new possible statewide school initiative, but it listed one concern.

The post reading:

“That being said…as currently planned, 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. All 6th graders will take Foundational Concepts 6. All 7th graders will take Foundational Concepts 7. All 10th graders will take Essential Concepts 10. Only in 11th and 12th grade is there any opportunity for choice in higher math courses.

My first reaction to this was that it seemed absolutely bananas, and that it sets a soft cap on the number of higher math courses students are going to be able to take. My second reaction was to wonder which outside math learning franchises (Kaplan, Mathnasium, etc.) are publicly traded, because I foresee their stock soaring.”

Ian Serotkin Facebook post

The post has made national headlines, but the VDOE says it’s clearing up the confusion. State Superintendent Dr. James Lane responding to the post.

“Absolutely acceleration is not going away in mathematics courses in Virginia,” said Dr. Lane. “If a student needs an accelerated pathway they will absolutely be able to do that. Some of the other things we’ve heard is that we’ll be eliminating the calculus pathway–absolutely not true. “

Both Dr. Lane and Serotkin are referring to VMPI or Virginia Mathematics Pathway Initiative. According to VDOE it’s a proposal to modernize math in grades K-12 to better align with 21st century college education and workforce careers.

Superintendent Lane says they want to hear feedback from parents and community members, adding discussions are just getting started.

“We are literally just having conversations with the community about what they want in the set of revisions,” Dr. Lane said. “None of the proposals are endorsed by the board. The board has not voted on the proposal.”

Throughout the media briefing Dr. Lane reassured parents not to worry and reiterated that advanced classes aren’t going anywhere. However, despite the clarification on Monday 8News interviewed Serotkin on Tuesday and he is standing by his original post. Serotkin says during last weeks Curriculum & Instruction Committee meeting the proposal was presented that students would be on the same track until the end of the 10th grade.

8News asked Serotkin on Tuesday if he misinterpreted the proposal, he responded saying, “I don’t think we misinterpreted what the VMPI program is or what they were trying to do. I think that there’s been a complete change in the way their portraying the curriculum over the past 48 hours or so based on the national uproar that’s occurred.”

Serotkin added that he is encouraged by what he calls ‘quick change’ and is happy math is becoming a national discussion.

The Virginia Department of Education is mandated every seven years to review standards of learning and update state curriculum. Officials have been hosting information meetings and webinars since at least December on the VMPI proposal.

The new math learning standards won’t be in Virginia classrooms until the 2025-2026 school year.

Click here to learn more about VMPI.

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