On June 15, 2023, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) released a draft of the brand-new Mathematics Standards of Learning (SOL) for review. It's the first revision of the standards since 2016, so there's a lot to unpack.
In this article, we'll:
- give an overview of what's happening,
- summarize the current estimated timeline,
- provide an overview of some of the changes to the standards, and
- communicate how Mathspace is planning to support the new standards this year
We'll also share some external resources related to the new standards that will be helpful.
Over the past months and years, a team of dedicated K-12 educators from Virginia has been collaborating. They received feedback on the old standards from stakeholders including teachers, administrators, and community members throughout the state. The new standards will cover mathematics in Virginia from Kindergarten to 12th grade.
The public can now provide additional feedback on the draft standards before the Board of Education approves them. After approval, school divisions throughout the state will fully implement the new standards.
While the VDOE released the draft standards on June 15, they are still subject to final approval. The VDOE expects to formally approve the standards in August or September of 2023, shortly after the school year has begun. If this happens as expected, the full implementation of the 2023 SOLs will begin during the 2024-2025 school year.
As a result, the structure 2023-2024 school year is in flux for many divisions. The initial timeline provided in January 2022 by the DOE planned for full implementation was slated for 2025-2026, with 2024-2025 as a crosswalk year. The crosswalk would have divisions working on both sets of standards at once. The 2023-2024 school year would remain focused on the 2016 standards.
With the shortened timeline, there is no longer a formal crosswalk year as was originally planned. However, many divisions will attempt to incorporate the new standards as much as possible in 2023-2024 to ensure minimal gaps for students when transitioning fully to the 2023 standards in August 2024. Connect with your division leadership to understand their expectations around following and assessing the new standards this year.
What has changed?
The VDOE has highlighted changes in a few places with the new standards, all to increase rigor and depth:
- Improve vertical coherence
- Apply and connect concepts within a course
- More focus on data analysis throughout the standards
- Embed the Mathematical Process Goals
For the standards themselves, there are two main types of changes. New content has been added, removed, or rearranged, and the structure of the standards has been adjusted. We'll be taking a detailed look at changes to some specific standards over the coming weeks.
The VDOE has released a summary of what has been added and removed from each course.The standards are also labeled differently. In the 2016 SOLs, the essential knowledge and skills were in bullet points in a separate curriculum framework doc. In comparison, the 2023 knowledge and skills are substandards in the main standards document. For example, in the 2016 standards, A.2 stated:
The student will perform operations on polynomials, including
a) applying the laws of exponents to perform operations on expressions;
b) adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing polynomials; and
c) factoring completely first- and second-degree binomials and trinomials in one variable.
It then included eight bulleted essential knowledge and skills to add context to the standard.
We can compare this to the 2023 standards, where the comparable standard A.EO.2 is defined as follows.
The student will perform operations on and factor polynomial expressions in one variable.
The standard then includes five ordered substandards (a-e) which provide similar detail to the bullets in the 2016 standards.
For educators, the streamlined approach, which builds the knowledge and skills directly into the standards, has the potential to clarify expectations and provide focus. There will be less ambiguity about what is included in a standard, as the clarifications and details are in the same place as the standards. Additionally, when measuring a student's mastery of a specific standard, there is less opportunity for a student to have mastered part of a standard while having unfinished learning in another significant piece.
The better-defined substandards aim to allow educators to identify areas of strength and growth for individuals and groups more precisely. The more focused level of skills has also provided Mathspace with direction on how we will support schools in Virginia this year.
How Mathspace will help
For those unfamiliar with Mathspace, we are a digital math resource used by students throughout Virginia, including in divisions like Fairfax County and Virginia Beach City.
Mathspace provides students with real-time, step-by-step support on every question they attempt, with immediate feedback and adaptive help, using our unique StepSmart Technology. As part of our plan to support Virginia schools' transition to the 2023 Standards, we have launched a brand-new Crosswalk Skills Book. This Crosswalk Skills Book includes:
- full alignment to the 2023 SOLs and the 2016 SOLs, making it easier to make a connection between the old and the new standards,
- digital StepSmart practice for every 2023 SOL, from 6th grade through Algebra 2,
- adaptive problem sets for quick assignment,
- and more - there's too much to list here!
We understand how important it is for students and teachers to have access to resources supporting the new standards. That's why we're excited to offer the Crosswalk Skills Book at no charge for the upcoming 2023-2024 school year to all districts in Virginia.
Register your interest in this offer and we'll be in touch to get you set up.