Wake school board upholds MVP math after review, says program will continue

After an hour of emotional parent testimonies about the controversial MVP Math Curriculum, the Wake County School Board voted Tuesday to stick with the program for the upcoming school year.

The board’s vote followed a review of a school district committee that had previously backed the curriculum. The school board found that there were no violations of laws, rules or policies in the review.

After Tuesday’s vote, school board chairman Jim Martin said of criticism about continuing the math curriculum, “I don’t think people understand, there’s no curriculum to go back to.”

During Tuesday’s hourlong public comment section, one parent, Blain Dillard, stepped up to the podium and put a piece of tape over his mouth. He then gave a three-minute speech using cardboard signs.

Dillard had a lawsuit filed against him last month by Mathematics Vision Project, accusing him of false and defamatory statements that may have damaged the company’s business with Wake County. The lawsuit against Dillard is over statements made against the MVP curriculum, which Wake put in place in 2017.

MVP brands its curriculum as non-traditional, where teachers act as facilitators while students do group work instead of focusing on lectures and memorization.

Some Wake County parents say that the curriculum is hurting their kids’ grades and academic futures.

Hajnalka Klieman, an area mother, gave an emotional speech about her two sons who had math-related college ambitions and have given up on the subject because of MVP.

Other speeches ranged from a former teacher who argued against using a single textbook to teach a curriculum and another area mother who accused the board of hurting the future of Wake County children.

“You’re doing experimentation at the expense of our children,” said Emmanuela Prister.

Wake County schools chief academics officer Edward McFarland spoke after public comment was over and detailed the possible review of MVP curriculum by MGT of America, which was approved.

The review will include online surveys, focus groups and look into the quality of specifics like instruction of the curriculum.

McFarland recently reported that there has been no academic decline since MVP was instated, but the average Math 1 and 2 scores in high school did decrease.

Mike Robinson, a Wake father, told The News & Observer that “MVP was awful for my son’s mental health ... it was something that he just couldn’t grasp.”

He said that his oldest son had a 94 percent score in the year before starting MVP, but finished with a 43 percent in MVP the next year. The 43 percent was rounded up to a 63.

“I’m pretty nervous this year because my younger is heading into MVP 2 and he has autism,” said Robinson.

“With such a heavy social requirement in the class, it will be so much more difficult for him.”

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Trent Brown covers the Town of Cary and other odds and ends. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2019 and is a Collegiate Network fellow.