I would like to make you aware of a new tool provided by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) that provides useful information regarding the status of public schools and local school divisions throughout the Commonwealth. You can find the detailed “School Quality Profiles” that VDOE provides here.
These profiles cover many topics, such as:
• Student achievement
• College and career readiness
• Program completion
• School safety
• Teacher quality
A lot of this information can also be found in the Virginia Board of Education’s recently released 2016 annual report. This report is released every year to highlight what our schools are doing well and to outline ways in which public K-12 education can be improved, and I want to share some things from the report that stood out to me.
First, this year’s report reaffirms what many of us already know – that Virginia has some of the best public K-12 schools in the country! Our children are scoring above the national average on tests like the SAT and ACT, and over ninety percent are graduating from high school on time. However, the Board thinks improvements can be made to better prepare students for life after high school. After speaking with higher education institutions, businesses, and the military, the Board believes students will benefit from having more technical skills training and other career exploration opportunities incorporated into the K-12 curriculum.
While it’s clear that our students are performing well on tests and receiving a quality education, the report indicates that there are currently not enough teachers in Virginia, particularly for subjects and areas like special education, math, and social studies. If I recall correctly, in 2015 Fairfax County had over fifty teacher vacancies in special education alone. To address this issue, the Board is looking into reforming Virginia’s licensing process with the hope of recruiting more teachers, and is looking into providing more employee benefits to help keep the teachers we have so they don’t move to other school systems.
These are some of the key points from this year’s report that I thought were important to share with you. You can click here for the full report. As a parent, I also encourage you to visit SchoolQuality.Virginia.Gov if you have children who are attending public schools, or are looking for more information on public schools and school divisions.