RD366 - Virginia Board of Education’s 2015 Annual Report on the Condition and Needs of Public Schools in Virginia - November 2015

Executive Summary:
A quality public education for every child in the Commonwealth is the highest priority for the Board of Education and its many partners at the state and local levels. There is a collective effort and commitment to creating an excellent statewide system of public education that provides equal opportunities and supports for every child to be a lifelong learner, achieve at high levels, and to be better prepared for adult roles beyond high school. This year’s Annual Report on the Condition and Needs of Public Schools in Virginia highlights key academic achievements and challenges facing Virginia’s schools.

Quality Results:

• Virginia’s schools reported across-the-board student gains on rigorous academic standards at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

• High school students continued to outperform their peers nationwide on college readiness assessments, as measured by the SAT and ACT.

• Virginia fourth graders outperformed their nationwide peers in reading and mathematics by significant margins on the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

• High school students earned more than 104,800 workplace credentials.

Priority Needs and Challenges:

• Reduced instructional and student support personnel during a period of student enrollment growth - Since 2008, K-12 public education staffing has been reduced by 5,000 positions, while student enrollment has increased by nearly 49,000 students (four percent) statewide.

• Virginia Department of Education’s capacity to support local school divisions with professional development resources - From the dawn of the Standards of Learning (SOL) era in 1990 through 2015, with added compliance and reporting requirements, Department of Education (VDOE) staffing levels have dropped by 167 employees (40 percent).

• Difficulty attracting and retaining highly effective teachers - An aging workforce, coupled with difficulty in staffing challenged schools, has created a systemic problem for many school divisions.

• Lack of mentoring programs and professional development support for new school leaders and teachers - Creating structured and supportive mentoring programs for new teachers and future administrators is critical to developing a pipeline of excellent educators for our public schools.

Priority Actions Needed:

The Standards of Learning, both the learning expectations and associated assessments, have provided a foundation for increased student achievement for nearly two decades and have helped make Virginia’s public schools among the nation’s best. However, twenty-first century accountability is more than just achievement on a series of tests. The Board of Education believes an effective accountability system is one that recognizes growth in student achievement; rewards, encourages, and promotes continuous improvement; and creates a school climate that engages students and retains and attracts highly effective and innovative teachers, and school administrators who inspire students to learn at high levels.

The Board believes we must work with our education partners to further improve public education by:

1. Creating an accountability system that promotes continuous improvement, acknowledges progress, and measures quality across a broad spectrum of indicators.

2. Building capacity in schools and school divisions to support the unique needs of all students, teachers, and administrators.

3. Fostering positive, safe, and healthy school climates that promote high student achievement and social and emotional development.

Achieving these priorities will require targeted resources- both fiscal and human- to provide the student and educator supports necessary to prepare all students for success in the twenty-first century workplace and to make responsible contributions to the quality of civic life in our state, nation, and the world. The Board of Education is committed to its role in advancing an excellent statewide system of public education, and looks forward to working with the executive and legislative branch, local governments, and other partners across the education spectrum.

This report further articulates the goals of the Board of Education and needs and conditions of public education in the Commonwealth.