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Another ‘Blueprint’ for Virginia’s Public Schools?

The November 15, 2011 newsletter (requires Adobe) of the Virginia Association of Counties (VACo), which costs Arlington County taxpayers over $45,000 annually, broke  the news the Virginia Association of School Superintendents (VASS) presented a new ‘blueprint” for PK-12 to the Virginia Board of Education on October 27, 2011. Here is how VACo summarized the report from the school superintendents:

“According to the report, Virginia should develop and implement standards that all school divisions can adhere to. These standards should include an accountability system and teacher development programs.

“The report also contends that schools measure student progress throughout the school year by using a range of assessments instead of one standardized test in the form of the current Standards of Learning (SOL) exam.

“Improvement in core subjects, such as math and reading, should be improved by identifying and addressing students’ weaknesses early on in order to correct them. School divisions should also examine a reconfiguration of the traditional school calendar and school day, the report states.

“A significant part of the report contends that teachers should be paid more so schools are able to retain and recruit quality teaching staff. To make the blueprint work, it all starts in the classroom with the teachers. Superintendents want to see educators in the top 10 percent of the pay scale with more professional development opportunities.

“Superintendents, however, oppose “state promotion and funding of pay for performance models that are not supported by research, are unfair and inequitable, and whose performance evaluations are based on irrelevant and invalid student growth models . . . .”

Here are the five major goals, or focus areas, put forward by Virginia’s school superintendents in the report's executive summary:

  1. Prepare all students to be college and career ready (Curriculum/Readiness)
  2. Measure student progress and achievement through a variety of assessments not limited to standardized, multiple choice tests (Assessment)
  3. Use evidence-based teaching and learning models that meet individual needs of diverse students (Instructional Delivery)
  4. Recruit, develop, and maintain effective and technically-proficient teachers, administrators, and classified staff (Human Capital)
  5. Ensure the Commonwealth meets its financial responsibility in providing public education and promoting economic development (State’s Role in Funding Public Education)

Unfortunately, the 'blueprint' doesn't say what is wrong with the existing system of public school in Virginia nor do we know the future of the VASS 'blueprint.' However, if we were cynical, we would say it appears the effort was undertaken as an effort to squeeze more money out of Virginia's overburdened taxpayers.

You can read VASS’s summary of their ‘blueprint' in their Fall2011 newsletter. The complete blueprint/report is available from the embedded link on page 4 of the November 15 VACo newsletter.

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