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Virginia Journal of Education


Virginia Chipping Away
at Achievement Gaps

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Virginia is one of just a handful of states singled out for reducing achievement gaps between black and white students in a report by the U.S. Department of Education. Here are some of the findings in the report, which is called Achievement Gaps: How Black and White Students in Public Schools Perform in Mathematics and Reading on the National Assessment of Education Progress, and looks at 2007 data for fourth- and eighth-graders:

• Virginia is one of only five states with smaller achievement gaps than the nation’s in reading in both grades.
• The commonwealth’s fourth grade reading achievement gap is a statistically significant 7 points smaller than the gap nationwide; in eighth grade, it’s 6 points, also statistically significant.
• Virginia is one of just 13 states where fourth grade reading achievement is higher for both black and white students than it was in 1992, the first year of grade four NAEP tests.
• Virginia is one of only four states where fourth grade math scores went up for both black and white students between 2005 and 2007.
• The commonwealth is among 15 states to narrow the achievement gap in fourth grade math because the gains of black students outpaced the gains of white students since 1992, when the fourth grade math tests were first given.

Rising Enrollments Coming
in State Elementary Schools

CHARLOTTESVILLE—According to researchers at the University of Virginia, state schools need to be getting ready for an influx of elementary school students over the next few years. Population estimates from the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service show that births to Virginians have increased about 10 percent from 2000 to 2007, which translates to a 42,000-student increase in enrollment in elementary schools by 2013.

Center researchers believe that the number of children entering kindergarten will grow from the 90,117 that enrolled in September 2008 to 99,367 in 2013. They also estimate that it will take 5 to 10 years for the growth in elementary school students to overcome declining enrollments in middle and high school.

State’s Mentoring
Rated High in Report

WASHINGTON, D.C.—One crucial factor in retaining good young teachers for the long term is quality mentoring, and Virginia is doing a pretty good job of helping rookie teachers break into the profession, according to a report by the National Center on Teaching Quality.

According to the NCTQ State Teacher Policy Yearbook 2008, Virginia requires that all first-year teachers receive mentoring, and that mentors must have completed a training program, earned continuing contract status, and teach in the same school as the new teachers. In addition, mentoring programs must provide enough release time during the school day for consultations between the mentor and mentee. There is no statewide requirement for mentors to receive extra pay for this work.
To further solidify state mentoring, NCTQ recommends that a firm timeline be established, one that brings together mentors and new teachers as soon as possible after the start of the school year, and that mentors be required to be trained in a subject area or grade level similar to the new teacher. Also, NCTQ believes that paying the mentors will ensure highest-quality participants.

1 in 10 Kids Showing Signs
of ‘Gaming’ Addiction

MINNEAPOLIS, MN—About one in every 10 young people ages 8-18 who play video games show signs of addiction to the activity, including adverse effects on their family, social, school and psychological lives, according to a study by the National Institute on Media and the Family and Iowa State University.

In the study, researchers compared the symptoms of “gamers” with the symptoms of pathological gamblers as defined by the American Psychiatric Association, and found that nearly one in every 10 of the young people studied displayed at least six of the symptoms of addiction, including:

• Lying to family and friends about video game usage;
• Using video games to escape from problems or bad feelings;
• Becoming restless or irritable when attempting to stop playing video games;
• Skipping homework in order to play video games; and
• Doing poorly on a school assignment or test because they spent too much time on games.

“This study is a wake-up call for families,” says David Walsh, president of the National Institute on Media and the Family. “While video games can be fun and entertaining, some kids are getting into trouble. I continue to hear from families who are concerned about their child’s gaming habits.”



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