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Keep Virginia DOE Accountable by Providing Input on Public School Accreditation and Quality!

Call to Action: Send Virginia DOE Accreditation Input ASAP

Keep Virginia DOE Accountable by Providing Input on Public School Accreditation and Quality!

While many of us were enjoying Spring Break, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) pulled a fast one and rolled out their latest “Accountability Listening Sessions.”  These sessions may sound innocuous or ignorable, but they will have a huge and possibly negative impact on the reputation and funding of your local public schools, so ignore at your own peril.  

4 Public Education attended the first listening session about revamping Virginia’s public school accountability and accreditation system last December. We were tentatively hopeful that Dr. Lisa Coons intended to follow through on her gracious promises of open engagement and listening to parent and educators; however, recent news about VDOE plans approved by the Virginia Board of Education sound like they are simply repackaging Niche-esque grading systems of schools while ignoring that such systems are swayed more heavily by poverty than aptitude and education.

This is reaffirmed by Dr. Anne Holton’s 3/29 social media comments that:

  • The “new rules will grade schools on A-F- type scale, mostly on how students do on our flawed SOL tests”

  • The VBOE “Ignored clear research that growth measures should be heavily factored into any school grading system.  Failure to do so can make school segregation -  and thus achievement gaps.”

  • The Board did this with an “unprecedented, rushed process.”

That last one point means that these so-called listening sessions were set up a week ago, with inadequate notice to parents, educators, and taxpayers. So much for the importance of parental involvement that Governor Youngkin promised--instead of “parents first,” this is “parents ignored.”

If it is not obvious, I’m angry. I feel betrayed by those who are paid and appointed to support public education and be responsible with taxpayer money. I am enraged that the VBOE and VDOE have thrown students and educators under the bus for a system that ignores the fact that poverty drives Niche-esque rating systems versus the skill and of teachers and quality of the students. 

If you care like I do, please attend one of the six remaining listening sessions by registering at the VDOE link:

  • Thursday, 4/4 Region 4: Innovation Elementary School, 8250 Ashton Avenue Manassas, VA 20109

  • Monday, 4/8 Region 1: Chesterfield Technical Center, 13900 Hull Street Rd, Midlothian, VA 23112

  • Tuesday, 4/9 Region 2: Torggler Fine Arts Center (TFAC), 1 University Pl, Newport News, VA 23606

  • Thursday, 4/11 Region 3: James Monroe High School, 2300 Washington Ave, Fredericksburg, VA 22401

  • Wednesday, 4/17 Region 6: Salem Museum, 801 E Main St, Salem, VA 24153

  • Thursday, April 18 Region 7: Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, 1 Partnership Cir, Abingdon, VA 24210

VDOE Feedback Topics about changes to accountability and accreditation of public schools

I registered to attend tonight's hearing in Manassas, VA, as everyone should, if they can. Just don’t try to add it to your calendar using their registration page because it is woefully broken, like I suspect this process is.

Since it is likely already too late to attend these sessions–which makes me question if the VDOE even cares what we the parents, educators, and taxpayers have to say–please send your comments ASAP by clicking the button below. Be forewarned that the Feedback Topics (see right) offered by the VDOE are nearly incomprehensible for the average parent or taxpayer, so feel free to choose your own comment topics.

Last December I ended my hopeful blog about the listening sessions with the following question and answer: “What is the true purpose of revamping Virginia’s public school system accountability and accreditation? In my experience, accountability is often applied only to public schools, whose processes, personnel, and performance is already transparent and excessively scrutinized while private and charter schools get a pass on any measurement of accountability–don’t even get me started on the lack of metrics on homeschooling. “

I’m sad to say that I was correct to be concerned about this VDOE initiative. Dr. Coons’ and VDOE’s initial professed intent of “transparency” is turning out to be a trojan horse for voucher efforts that suck more money from our public schools and taxpayers for unaccountable private institutions, charter schools, and homeschooling efforts. 

UPDATE: This quick turnaround by the VDOE was caused by the VBOE rushing this process and eliminating the first and final review, which means that all input needed to be collected immediately so that they can vote on the changes next month. Or, to repeat Ms. Holton's (a VBOE member) words: The Board did this with an “unprecedented, rushed process.” 4 Public Education learned this detail at the 4/4 Learning Session in Manassas. We will be reporting out on this meeting next week.


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