One-size-fits-all math is hardly equitable
I am writing as a concerned parent, citizen, engineer, and strong STEAM and Trades proponent. Recently the staff of the Virginia Mathematics Pathways Initiative briefed out a plan for a change in the math curriculum statewide. The plan provides a pathway for every student to be able to take rhigher math, including calculus, by the end of high school if they so choose.
At first glance, this appears to be a great way to eliminate ia major problem we currently have of students being “locked in” to their math track and being unable to get to calculus later on if they weren’t sufficiently accelerated in middle school.
We also need to reevaluate how we teach math today. I applaud this effort.
But at that point, concerns start to arise. The plan’s initial information eliminated all math acceleration prior to 11th grade. Only in 11th and 12th grade was there any opportunity for choice in higher math courses. The plan had removed pre-algebra, Algebra 1, geometry, and Algebra 2 while forcing all students into a one=size-fits-all math class. While the Department of Education has changed its stance due to initial feedback, the path forward remains unclear.
We need to be equitable in our approach to providing a solid educational opportunity for all of our students, but part of that process is recognizing that some students excel in areas that others may not. We should provide advancing opportunities to students tailored to their needs.
I fear we may unintentionally impact students who have a focus and drive in the area of STEM/STEAM. Add this on top of the DOE’s push to eliminate the Advanced Studies Diplomas, and a large swath of the public will be frustrated with our public education system even beyond the challenges of COIVD.
Let’s focus on the basics and take care of all of our students.