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    Document Summary
    - Report Published -

    Report Document No. 32
    View PDF Version*

    Document Title
    2010 Annual Report on the Condition and Needs of Public Schools in Virginia

    Board of Education

    Enabling Authority

    Executive Summary

    In Virginia:

    One million-two hundred thousand students enter the doors of Virginia’s 1,850 public schools every school day. They are taught by 100,000 classroom teachers, who are assisted by an additional 40,000 teacher aides, school secretaries, principals, counselors, librarians, custodians, cafeteria workers, school bus drivers, and instructional specialists, and supervisors.

    The members of the Board of Education work to ensure that each of the 1.2 million children enrolled in our public schools receives the best education and is taught by excellent, well-prepared, and highly qualified teachers who work in safe, orderly schools.

    These are not idle words; rather these words form the foundation of everything the Board of Education does---every policy, every regulation, every program put in place.

    Increasing academic achievement for all students is the core of our mission. This means that every student is expected to graduate from high school prepared to move on to productive work and further study. All of our students must have the necessary academic skills to become lifelong learners and function in the global economy. The Board of Education’s core mission embraces the student-centered approach that is so important in helping all children make great strides in achievement.

    As stated in the Board of Education’s "Comprehensive Plan: 2011-2016:"

    Virginia intends to be the best. The standards and the accountability set by the Board of Education provide benchmarks to gauge the academic achievement of Virginia’s students compared to their peers across the state, the nation, and internationally. The Board of Education’s vision and mission statements and goals for public education provide the framework for a world-class statewide system of public schools for Virginia. The statements are forward-looking and acknowledge the programs and services provided by Virginia’s public schools to meet the increasingly diverse needs of students who will live, compete, and work in an expanding and complex global, high tech economy.

    The Board of Education’s Vision for Virginia’s Public Schools

    The vision of the Board of Education and Superintendent of Public Instruction, in cooperation with their partners, is to create an excellent statewide system of public education that derives strength from our diversity and that ensures equality of opportunity for each student in a safe and healthy learning environment that prepares all students to be capable, responsible, and self-reliant citizens in the global society.

    The Board’s Mission: What We Want to Accomplish

    The mission of the Board of Education and Superintendent of Public Instruction, in cooperation with their partners, is to set education policies that support the lifelong academic and career achievement of all students by establishing high standards and expectations for learning, utilizing evidence and research, measuring and effectively analyzing system-wide performance, as well as ensuring transparency and accountability to parents and the public.

    Academic Progress of Virginia’s Students

    The achievements shown by students in Virginia’s public schools have been substantial, strengthening foundations for learning and positioning Virginia’s teachers and school leaders to continue to build a better future for all students. The following objective indicators illustrate the progress Virginia’s public schools are making in an era when all students must be challenged to reach their highest potential.

    • Ninety-eight percent of Virginia’s public schools are fully accredited and meeting current state standards for achievement in English, mathematics, history and science based on 2009-2010 assessment results.

    • Virginia’s 2010 public school graduates increased their achievement and outperformed their peers nationwide on all three sections of the SAT college-admissions test. Also, black and Hispanic Virginia public school graduates increased their achievement and outperformed their peers nationwide on all three SAT subsections.

    • More than 85 percent of the students in the class of 2010 graduated on time with a diploma. Moreover, the graduation rates of black and Hispanic students continued to improve.

    • For a sixth consecutive year, the number of Virginia students graduating with an Advanced Studies Diploma increased, and the number of advanced diplomas awarded exceeded the number of Standard Diplomas.

    • The College Board’s February 2010 "Advanced Placement Report to the Nation" ranked Virginia third in the nation in achievement on AP examinations.

    • Virginia public high school graduates achieved significantly higher scores on the ACT this year, and the students in Virginia improved in all subjects. The percentage of Virginia public school students meeting ACT college-readiness benchmarks was seven or more points higher than the percentage nationwide.

    • Results from national reading tests show that Virginia elementary and middle school students continue to outperform their peers nationwide and are among the nation’s strongest readers.

    * While Virginia students again ranked among the nation’s highest achievers, the 2009 NAEP results also show that overall achievement among Virginia fourth graders is similar to achievement in 2002, while the overall average reading score for eighth graders has declined.

    • Six out of 10 Virginia schools exceeded or met all No Child Left Behind (NCLB) objectives during 2009-2010 despite new accountability provisions related to high school graduation and the testing of students with disabilities.

    * Sixty percent of Virginia’s public schools made “adequate yearly progress” (AYP) by surpassing objectives in reading and mathematics and meeting other indicators of academic progress, compared with 71 percent last year.

    * The aggressive objective for graduation set by the Board of Education and the change in federal special education policy were factors as the number of schools and school divisions making AYP declined – even though overall achievement was steady in reading and up in mathematics.

    Critical Needs of the Public Schools in Virginia

    As captured in this report, Virginia’s public schools have made great progress, but they undoubtedly still have a long way to go. The Board’s priorities for action—and the performance measures used to gauge the Board’s progress in meeting those priorities—focus on the most critical needs of the public schools now and for the foreseeable future. The most critical needs include the following:

    • Funding for the Standards of Quality (SOQ) and other valued initiatives and programs in the current fiscal and economic climate.

    • Continuing to examine and improve Virginia’s academic standards in order to lead the country in the rigor and quality of standards. This priority is especially important in light of the national discussion on Common Core State Standards. Virginia will continue to monitor work at the national level related to the Common Core State Standards and the Common Assessments. The Board recently revised the curriculum framework for both the "English Standards of Learning" and the "Mathematics Standards of Learning." Taken together, the revised curriculum frameworks have a strong alignment with the English/Language Arts and the Mathematics Common Core State Standards, and in some areas, exceed the content of the Common Core State Standards. Thus, Virginia’s standards meet or exceed national standards in English as well as mathematics.

    • Focusing on important international comparisons of student achievement. Two studies suggest that for Virginia and the nation to remain competitive in the global economy, the U.S. is going to need to make substantial gains in mathematics and science achievement. In one of the studies comparing international performance to Virginia’s outcomes, five countries had proportionally more students performing at or above proficient than Virginia, and another four had similar results. This study also estimated that in science achievement, eight countries had more eighth-grade students earning proficient scores or higher in science, with 4 countries showing statistically higher percentages.

    • Helping divisions by setting policies and initiatives that will help eliminate gaps in graduation rates and student achievement, which—although improving— persist among Virginia’s black and Hispanic students and their white and Asian counterparts. This is one of Virginia’s most persistent areas for academic achievement.

    • Anticipating the impact of the fiscal climate that is destined to become even more difficult as the flow of federal stimulus funds ends.

    • Continuing the technical assistance and interventions by the Virginia Department of Education to assist divisions previously identified as low-performing, especially in this time of agency budget and staffing restrictions.

    • Dealing effectively with schools that do not meet full accreditation because of difficulty in meeting the aggressive objective for graduation rates set by the Board of Education. As the Board of Education ratchets up its expectations and the rigor of the Standards of Accreditation, some schools will struggle and need additional technical assistance.

    • Maintaining emphasis on quality programs for at-risk four-year-olds across the state in an era of reduced resources.

    • Setting sound policies and guidelines to help divisions provide additional learning opportunities for students, such as charter schools, college partnership laboratory schools, STEM programs, and online learning programs.

    • Keeping up with increasingly burdensome and time-consuming federal reporting and accountability requirements, especially those related to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (previously known as No Child Left Behind), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund.

    • Providing programs that address the instructional needs of gifted students, students with disabilities and the students with limited English proficiency, many of whom may need additional instructional support to be successful in school.

    • Seeking new and efficient ways to use technology to reduce the testing burden on teachers and students, but to do so in a way that will not reduce accountability standards and that can be accomplished with available funding.

    • Dealing effectively with the realities of schooling for some children who face difficult personal circumstances such as high poverty, high crime in their neighborhoods, high rates of unhealthy behaviors, poor nutrition, and other circumstances that obstruct their learning at school. This includes the need for the Board’s continued advocacy for programs that keep children safe and teach positive behavior, such as anti-bullying programs.

    • Finding new and effective ways to partner with colleges and universities and school divisions in the preparation, recruitment, and retention of highly qualified teachers and other educational personnel. A corollary to this is the need for concerted effort to develop and promote policies to help divisions recruit and maintain minority teachers and educational personnel.

    • Finding and promoting new and effective ways to involve parents in their child’s education, a critical need that must be addressed if Virginia is to promote safe and healthy school environments and eliminate achievement gaps.

    • Helping teachers and administrators at all levels to gather, analyze, and use data to continuously improve teaching and learning—the data analysis work that can lead their schools to understand what needs to change to get better results. A further challenge is to create new resources for professional development that put usable information into the hands of those directly responsible for students’ learning.

    Board of Education Priorities for Action

    The Board of Education’s "Comprehensive Plan: 2007-2012" established goals and objectives for action. The goals and objectives are updated biennially, and in early 2011 the Board is expected to approve new goals and objectives when it adopts its "Comprehensive Plan: 2011-2016."

    Compliance with the Standards of Quality

    Ninety-four divisions (listed in Appendix A) reported full compliance with the provisions of the Standards of Quality (SOQ) in the 2009-2010 school year. Appendix B contains a list of school divisions that reported noncompliance with certain provisions of the SOQ.

    Compliance with the Standards of Accreditation

    Ninety-eight percent of Virginia’s public schools are fully accredited and meeting state standards for achievement in English, mathematics, history and science based on 2009-2010 assessment results. Schools failing to meet the accreditation requirements are listed in Appendix C.