Changes Ahead for State School Systems?

Feb 5, 2014

The Virginia Senate has passed a series of bills to delay or weaken some of the controversial education accountability measures that were enacted in recent years.  

One addresses the policy of grading schools using an A through F system that aimed to make school performance more understandable to parents.

  Other bills would modify the rules governing when schools would be transferred to oversight of the newlycreated Opportunity Educational Institute and cut the number of Standards of Learning assessments.  

Senator John Miller said A through F school grades measure poverty more than academic achievement.  His bill would delay implementing the new system for three years AND fold new criteria that go beyond assessments into the grade averages.  “Other criteria critical to academics, such as the experience and qualifications of the staff, the total cost and funding for per-pupil expenses, remediation programs offered, extracurricular activities offered, number of participants, parental engagement, and external awards and recognitions.”

Another measure would delay by one year the transfer of chronically underperforming schools to the Opportunity Educational Institute, the state entity that was to begin supervising them after this year. And Senator Emmet Hanger’s bill directs the state Education Board to develop a plan to reduce the number of SOL tests by 25 percent.  “High-stakes testing, accountability testing is a good thing. But we’ve come to the point that we’re spending too much of our time and resource on testing and not enough on learning.” The bills now head to the House of Delegates.