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Richmond School Board Adopts New K-8 Math, Reading Curricula

Cheryl Burke, RPS school board vice chair, voted to approve new K-8 math and reading curricula Monday night. (Photo: Crixell Matthews)

Monday night, Richmond’s school board voted to approve new K-8 reading and math curricula. They took two separate votes to approve each individually, and added an amendment – when voting to adopt the reading curriculum – to clarify that teachers can delay implementation another year if necessary.  

That may answer one point of contention: How does the district expect teachers to learn new material during a pandemic? “Will there be remote teaching support for those teachers who may struggle?” asked board member Pat Sapini.

While Tracy Epp, chief academic officer for RPS, says the district would like all schools to start using both the new reading and math material this coming fall, the school board’s amendment makes that negotiable.

Professional development will be offered virtually over the summer, and some school board members like Sapini would like to see it mandatory for all teachers. 

The district has been piloting Eureka Math in most elementary schools and middle schools at the 6th grade level this year, starting with several schools in the 2018-2019 school year. The rollout hasn’t been perfect, and there’ve been calls from some to halt curriculum adoption because of the pandemic. 

“As a parent, I have experienced that, you know, one size does not fit all,” said board member Kenya Gibson. “I have concerns that other parents have had in other places in the country where the pacing has not been developmentally appropriate. And the approach is not always the right fit.”

But others like Cheryl Burke, vice-chair of the RPS school board, said the district shouldn’t wait to move forward with new content.

“Yes, we are experiencing the COVID-19 we're experiencing ongoing systemic racism, poverty,” Burke said. “It is our job, however, to keep the main thing the main thing... And the main thing is making sure that we provide a sound educational foundation for every child.”


Megan Pauly reports on early childhood and higher education news in Virginia
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