It would seem Virginia’s far-left Department of Education is radically restructuring what is taught in public schools. They have failed at reducing achievement gaps, so now they want everyone to receive a mediocre education.
Leslie Sale, director of the Virginia Education Department’s office of policy, on Tuesday announced an exploratory effort to review Virginia’s diploma and graduation requirements in a live-streamed meeting with the department’s Special Committee to Review the Standards of Accreditation.
“This is about … how and where graduation requirements can operate as a lever for equity,” Sale said around the 1:26:26 mark during the presentation. “So, first, we’re going to start with…the possibility of consolidating the standard and advanced studies diploma.”
She continued: “Hopefully, this discussion will allow us to think through how we maintain a rigorous academic foundation in a way that’s really equitably serving the needs and aspirations of all of Virginia learners.”
Sale added that the discussion is aligned with recommendations from the African American Superintendents Advisory Council, a Virginia-based advisory committee that represents African American school leaders, teachers, parents and advocates.
Recommendations from the council released in March to advance student equity include a revision of Virginia’s “Standards of Accreditation to address opportunity gaps reflected in available course options and to provide equal emphasis on workforce readiness in accrediting schools,” according to a press release.
“These recommendations include developing measurable plans to close the persistence of achievement gaps, close opportunity gaps that disproportionately impact Black students and other students of color, diversify Virginia’s educator force, and support professional development for administrators and educators focused on culturally inclusive and responsive competencies and equity-centered practices that disrupt intentional and unintentional racism in education,” Newport News Public Schools chief of staff Rashard Wright – who serves as the chair of the advisory council – said in a March statement.
In 2011, the Virginia Department of Education ended the distribution of three different diplomas, bringing the number available to students from six to three, which is the state’s current structure. Educational disparities between minority and White students, however, remain an issue.
The majority of advanced-diploma earners in 2019 were Asian (79%) and White (63%), according to Sale’s presentation. Among minority students, 44% of Hispanic learners, 40% of Black students and 35% of “economically disadvantaged” students received advanced degrees.
MASSIVE STATE MATH CURRICULUM REVAMP
During last night’s Curriculum & Instruction Committee meeting, we received a briefing from staff on the Virginia Mathematics Pathways Initiative (VMPI), a sweeping initiative by the Virginia Department of Education to revamp the K-12 math curriculum statewide over the next few years.
There are some noble goals with this initiative – it provides a pathway for every student to be able to take calculus or higher math by the end of high school if they so choose. That is a very good thing, and eliminates a major problem we have currently 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.
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.
I’ve asked for this to be an information item at next week’s board meeting to communicate this more broadly with other board members and the community. There is also a series of information sessions run by the VDOE for parents wishing to learn more.
When educators are telling parents that the only way for their kids to have a challenging curriculum is through private options, you know things are getting crazy.