RD532 - 2018 Annual Report on the Condition and Needs of Public Schools in Virginia

Executive Summary:

As outlined in § 22.1-18, by December 1 of each year, the Board of Education must submit to the Governor and General Assembly a report on the condition and needs of public education in the Commonwealth.

Through the 2018 Annual Report on the Condition and Needs of Public Schools in Virginia, the Board of Education reaffirms the priorities and goals outlined in its comprehensive plan, adopted November 2017. The priorities outlined in the comprehensive plan are to:

• Provide high-quality, effective learning environments for all students;

• Advance policies that increase the number of candidates entering the teaching profession and encourage and support the recruitment, development, and retention of well-prepared and skilled teachers and school leaders;

• Ensure successful implementation of the Profile of a Virginia Graduate and the accountability system for school quality as embodied in the revisions to the Standards of Accreditation.

Through its current review of research and work, the Board has reached several conclusions about the condition of public education in Virginia:

1) By nearly every national and state measure, Virginia’s public schools, students, and educators continue to improve and lead the way in academic achievement and accountability. However, persistent achievement gaps remain for certain student groups. Virginia will achieve equity when a student’s zip code or poverty level doesn’t predict achievement.

2) Virginia schools are underfunded. According to the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission’s report Virginia Compared to the Other States: 2018 Edition, Virginia ranks 24th of 50 for state and local per pupil funding for Pre K-12 education, and 40th of 50 for state per pupil funding. State level support for K-12 education in Virginia has not returned to pre-recessionary levels. Despite recent progress by the legislature, state support is still down 9.1 percent per student for the 2018-2019 school year in real dollars compared to 2008-2009.

3) Local governments continue to take on a larger share of funding. In 2016-2017, Virginia localities invested $4.0 billion above the required local effort for SOQ programs. However, not all localities have the capacity to provide additional investments causing inequitable resources and learning opportunities for students.

4) Students in high-poverty schools have less experienced teachers, less access to courses, and lower levels of spending on teachers and instructional materials. Despite serving students who often need additional supports and services, Virginia’s high poverty divisions receive 89 cents for every dollar as compared to low poverty divisions.(*1) Average student outcomes similarly lag in high poverty divisions.

5) While student enrollment continues to increase, overall staffing levels for Virginia public schools have decreased compared to the 2008-2009 school year. Currently, there are 1,242 fewer staff in Virginia schools and over 50,000 more students enrolled, many requiring additional supports and services.(*2)

6) Virginia is facing a growing shortage of high-quality educators entering and remaining in the classroom. The number of unfilled teacher positions across the Commonwealth has increased by 42 percent over the past ten years, from 760 to 1,080, and has become an emergency in many high poverty schools. The percent of provisionally licensed and inexperienced teachers has similarly climbed.

7) For the past six years in Virginia, teacher turnover rates have been above ten percent. While the specific reasons for departure are not collected, nationally the major reasons for teacher turnover include lack of administrative support, poor teaching conditions and accountability pressures.

8) Virginia ranked 29th out of 50 for average salary of K-12 teachers, as of 2016. When compared to similarly educated professions across the country, Virginia teacher wages are less competitive, earning about 30 percent less than similarly educated professions.(*3)

9) Comprehensive induction programs can improve teacher retention and accelerate the professional growth of a teacher, providing a positive return on investment and improve student learning.

10) Financial incentives can impact teacher recruitment and retention. Research shows that state financial incentive programs have potential to direct teachers to shortage areas but those incentive programs will lose their appeal if they are not sufficient, sustainable, and paired with improvements to working conditions.

11) PreK and early childhood education are essential to the success of Virginia’s public education system. There are approximately 512,000 children ages birth to five in Virginia. Of these, roughly 100,000 are accessing publicly-funded programs including child care subsidy, Head Start, pre-K and other programs. Approximately 90,000 children enter kindergarten each year from Virginia’s early childcare education system, of which only 60 percent are fully ready with the literacy, math and social skills needed. Without quality early childhood education programs, significant achievement gaps will continue to exist.

The Board is committed to creating a more equitable public education system that supports a high-quality, diverse teacher workforce, utilizing its authority provided in the Virginia Constitution and Code of Virginia. Addressing conditions that affect student learning and well-being requires a continued investment of resources. Further, addressing these needs will require partnerships between the Board of Education, the General Assembly, the Governor, local school boards and divisions, educators, families, community organizations, institutions of higher education, and business industries. The Board will continue its research and work into 2019 with the expectation of developing and submitting a comprehensive package of recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly prior to the development of the 2020-2021 biennial budget.
(*1) Baker, Farrie, Sciarra. (2018) Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card (Seventh Edition). Newark, NJ: Education Law Center and Rutgers Graduate School of Education. http://www.edlawcenter.org/assets/files/pdfs/publications/Is_School_Funding_Fair_7th_Editi.pdf.
(*2) The Commonwealth Institute of Fiscal Analysis. (2018) http://www.thecommonwealthinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/PUBLIC-SCHOOLS-IN-VIRGINIA-130.pdf
(*3) Baker, Farrie, Sciarra. (2018) Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card (Seventh Edition). Newark, NJ: Education Law Center and Rutgers Graduate School of Education. http://www.edlawcenter.org/assets/files/pdfs/publications/Is_School_Funding_Fair_7th_Editi.pdf