Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Virginia Plans to Eliminate Math Acceleration -- wait, What?

All kids do not learn math at the same age, pace, and proficiency. In fact, we know the literacy, math, and critical thinking skills of kids are not actually age-specific. That, of course, is a key problem and inefficiency of the K12 once-size-fits-all education system. However, many schools are able to adjust for responsive learning needs through flexible acceleration, and as a result, not every kid is stuck in Algebra I during their ninth grade year, even though that class has long been the standard. As a GT coordinator in a high achieving school community, I've known kids in ninth grade to be in geometry, algebra II/trig, and even calculus. So, clearly one math pathway is not responsive to students.

Thus, the move by the Virginia Department of Education to "eliminate all math acceleration before eleventh grade" is a truly baffling, unsettling, frustrating, and disappointing decision. It is a step backward in education, as is the reasoning of holding kids back in the name of equity. For those of us who have spent a long time in education, in understanding giftedness, and in working for equity, the idea of treating all kids the same is outdated thinking. In fact, we've all seen the graphic of the kids at the fence and the distinction between equity and equality. Equality is providing one path and treating all people the same; equity is providing equal access to opportunity while providing multiple pathways to success and achievement.

Virginia is making a huge mistake in its misguided attempt to help kids. 

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