As part of larger plans to reorganise the state’s system of evaluating students and schools, a study group sponsored by the state has recommended Virginia alter its Standards of educational assessment.
The work group was established by legislation known as House Bill 585, which gave it the mandate to recommend modifications to the state’s educational assessment system and create an implementation plan prior to the 2027–28 academic year. Members of the work group included the secretary of education, Aimee Guidera, and the superintendent of public instruction, Lisa Coons.
The report, which was released on Monday, “illuminates the actions we must take to advance student outcomes, improve access to high-quality and timely information for parents, students, and the public, and restore excellence for Virginia students,” according to a statement from Guidera.
Test results for Virginia kids fell precipitously both during and after the outbreak. The key examinations used by the state to evaluate student learning and accomplishment, the SOLs, were passed by the same percentage of students in 2022–2023 as they were in 2021–2022, according to data from the Virginia Department of Education. Additionally, pass rates stayed below pre-pandemic levels.
The overall recommendations of the work group report include “clearer and more rigorous Standards of Learning; more rigorous educational assessment items; more timely, clear, and actionable reporting; improved system coherence; and innovative educational assessment design,” Guidera and Coons stated in a letter to the General Assembly.
The board’s president, Charlie Shields, claimed that although he has worked with five commissioners, Vandeven has encountered the most difficulties.
He claimed that Margie Vandeven’s difficulties rendered those of the other commissioners “pale in comparison.”
Branson resident and board member Peter Herschend claimed to have served under eight different commissioners. He thinks Vandeven had the finest hope and vision for Missouri’s educational system.
Herschend said, “I hope your successor can do as well.” “You have improved the lives of children. And that’s all that matters in the end.
In his remarks to the board, Vandeven described being the commissioner as “the opportunity of a lifetime.”
The board must examine each of its educational standards at least every seven years in accordance with state law. The board most recently revised its standards in history and social science; it will evaluate the standards in computer science, English, and science in January 2025.
Any fresh assessment will need more funding, the work group noted. Compared to other states, Virginia spends a lot less on contracts for testing in grades 3 through 8, allocating $18 per student as opposed to the $27 national average.
The work group’s sponsor and teacher, Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg, D-Henrico, said in a statement that after reading the report, he was “tentatively hopeful that Virginia’s testing system is on the right path.”
“I want to urge the administration to continue the constructive, bipartisan dialogue created by my House Bill 585 and this workgroup ahead of the 2024 General Assembly session to ensure we have appropriate and effective accountability metrics going forward while also prioritising continued budgetary investments in our public schools necessary to achieve the report’s goals,” he wrote.
The work group advised that any legislation requiring student retesting or that do not follow the guidelines be changed or eliminated by the legislature.
The board started working on creating a new accountability system to monitor student and school performance last month. Virginia currently maintains a single system for both accountability and accreditation, in contrast to many other states that continue to operate dual systems.