California’s Department of Education is working on a new framework for K-12 mathematics that discourages gifted students from enrolling in accelerated classes that study advanced concepts like calculus.
The draft of the framework is hundreds of pages long and covers a wide range of topics. But its overriding concern is inequity. The department is worried that too many students are sorted into different math tracks based on their natural abilities, which leads some to take calculus by their senior year of high school while others don’t make it past basic algebra. The department’s solution is to prohibit any sorting until high school, keeping gifted kids in the same classrooms as their less mathematically inclined peers until at least grade nine.
“The inequity of mathematics tracking in California can be undone through a coordinated approach in grades 6–12,” reads a January 2021 draft of the framework. “In summary, middle-school students are best served in heterogeneous classes.”
In fact, the framework concludes that calculus is overvalued, even for gifted students.
“The push to calculus in grade twelve is itself misguided,” says the framework.