Virginia Board of Education Wrap, March 2022
March 23, 2022
March 23, 2022
On March 17th, a smaller than usual Virginia Board of Education (VBOE) met to decide on a host of technical, yet important changes to a long list of items dealing with licensure, curriculum, and evaluation standards. (For background on the political reasons why the VBOE was smaller than usual, check out the Virginia Mercury story here.) Aside from some testy comments by the public at the beginning of the meeting about transgender student rights and “critical race theory,” the rest of the meeting proceeded as normal with Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) staff presentations and approval of agenda items.
Below, we spotlight the TOP 3 things you need to know about the meeting. If you want to get deep in the weeds, check out the March 2022 Board Brief here and meeting notes here.
State Superintendent Jillian Balow requested that the VBOE delay their decision to vote on approving the creation of a new data science SOL and curriculum framework for high school students (see details of proposal and draft curriculum here). Eventually, a data science SOL could satisfy graduation requirements for a math course at the algebra II level or higher. Research has demonstrated that creating more mathematics pathways in school 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.
Care about adding a new data science SOL? Then come testify in support at the next VBOE meeting on Thursday April 21st. The details of the meeting have not been posted yet – usually those are posted a few days before here – but it will likely start around 9 am in Richmond.
The Board approved the higher recommended cut scores by State Superintendent Balow – 157 for the middle school math Praxis (details here) and 159 mathematics endorsement Praxis (details here). This was higher than the Board’s advisory committee recommendation and was justified as a means to “set high standards for our teachers.” While we certainly want to maintain high standards for our teachers, there are tradeoffs with setting the cut score above recommended levels. Studies have found that higher Praxis cut scores have varying effects on student outcomes, particularly by race. Students of color tend to have better outcomes when taught by a teacher of color, and higher Praxis cut scores reduce the diversity of the teacher workforce. We’re all for setting standards of excellence for our teachers, however, improving student outcomes should be the lens through which the bar is set, not arbitrary credentialing that certain politicians ascribe merit to.
As required by legislation, VBOE passed a major revision to evaluation guidelines to create a new performance standard for principals and superintendents, titled Culturally Responsive and Equitable Leadership. This brings principal and superintendent evaluations more in line with the new cultural competency metric for teacher evaluations this year. Next steps include training for principals and superintendents this summer, followed by statewide implementation. Hungry for more details, find them all here.