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Letters to the Editor for May 15, 2022: Learning algebra | Letters

Learning algebra

In just a few short weeks, students across central Virginia will be rewarded for their years of hard work as they cross the stage at their high school graduation ceremonies. For a certain group of equally motivated students, however, the possibility of a high school diploma seems to be just out of reach.

To earn a standard diploma, the commonwealth currently requires the completion of three math credits, and ensures all students pass algebra I before graduating. It is no secret that algebra I is a critical yet challenging course for many students.

Research also has indicated early success in algebra I is a meaningful predictor of high school graduation. However, for students with certain learning disabilities, abstract algebra concepts can seem almost impossible to grasp.

As a result, the Virginia Department of Education has approved splitting content of certain courses, including algebra I, across two years. This option is currently available in multiple central Virginia school divisions, including the city of Richmond and Henrico County. Unfortunately, this is not the case in other areas, including Hanover County.

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This is not due to a lack of necessity, or a lack of advocacy for the course sequence to be offered. School officials might fear offering algebra over two years would result in content fatigue, or poor performance on the Standards of Learning test that would be taken in the second year. In other divisions, however, this option has proven to have far more benefits than concerns.

By not offering this course, students in Hanover and other localities are left without equitable access to accommodations that are available for students in other locations. As a future special education teacher, I strongly encourage Hanover County Public Schools to adopt this course option.

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