Virginia Board of Education Wrap, April 2022
April 28, 2022
April 28, 2022
While there weren’t any items that generated controversy, the changes moved forward or approved during the Virginia Board of Education’s April meeting were initiatives in the works for months, even years, and developed by experts on VBOE committees and Virginia Department of Education staff. We watched the nearly three-hour business meeting to bring you the highlights, so you don’t have to!
Below, we highlight the 3 items to know gleaned from this meeting. Hungry for more details? Check out the meeting materials and presentations here.
It’s been a long time coming, and many (many!) experts have weighed in, but the VBOE has given final approval to a new data science SOL and curriculum (check it out here). This means in a couple years, high school students will have more math pathways outside of the traditional algebra II/calculus track for meeting mathematics requirements. Research has demonstrated that creating more math pathways results in improved outcomes and post-secondary success, especially for students who may not have been tracked or as engaged with traditional, algebraic-focused curriculum.
VDOE will run a pilot with the new curriculum in collaboration with around 16 school divisions in the 2022-2023 school year and will roll it out across the state the following year.
While everyone agrees that chronic absenteeism – defined as an absence of 10 percent or more of the school year – remains a major challenge for too many students and greatly impedes outcomes, schools will not have it count towards their accreditation status next year. This was a move resulting from attendance instability during and coming out of the pandemic, and doesn’t mean chronic absenteeism won’t be a focus of schools or that data must not still be reported to the Virginia Department of Education. VBOE members emphasized that this is a one-time deal, and that chronic absenteeism will return as an accreditation measure in the 2023-2024 school year. (Be on the lookout for new VEA analysis on accreditation that will be released publicly in the next month.)
In what should have been a simple procedural vote to adopt cultural competency training licensure requirements passed in 2021 legislation, State Superintendent Balow, while acknowledging the changes, said there needs to be a “continuing conversation” and alignment to Executive Order 1 (see recorded comments here). For context, Governor Youngkin’s first executive order banned “divisive concepts” and “critical race theory.”
It’s clear from research that cultural competency training for educators improves their ability to work with all students and increases student engagement and comprehension. While the state is moving forward with implementing cultural competency training into licensure requirements, Superintendent Balow’s apprehension on this topic is worrisome. It could spell trouble down the road if she and the administration seek to redefine the established definition and understanding of cultural competency to meet political goals around addressing non-existent “critical race theory” in our schools. You can count on the VEA to closely monitor the roll-out of regulations tied to cultural competency and keep you posted.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, teachers in Virginia earn 32.7% less in weekly wages than other (non-teacher) college-educated workers. Virginia’s teacher wage penalty is the worst in the nation.Take Action Now