Virginia Dept. of Education releases report on student achievement – The Washington Post

by | May 19, 2022 | Education

Placeholder while article actions loadThe Virginia Department of Education painted a grim picture of student achievement in the state in a report released Thursday, asserting that children are performing poorly on national assessments in reading and math and falling behind peers in other states.The 34-page report on students’ academic performance, requested as part of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s first executive order, says these trends are especially pronounced among Black, Hispanic and low-income students. The report further critiques what it calls school districts’ lack of transparency regarding declining student performance — and it laments parents’ “eroding” confidence in the state’s public schools.“We are not serving all of Virginia’s children and we must,” Youngkin said at a news conference in Richmond, where he and his education team presented the report. “We want to be the best in education. We should be the best in education. And the data that is compiled and shared with you today suggests that we have a lot of work to do to be the best.”AdvertisementA Washington Post analysis of the report, though, suggests its use of data is misleading, and shows Virginia students performed at least as well as or better than students nationwide over the past several years. And some educators and politicians took immediate exception to the report Thursday, criticizing its presentation and analysis of student test scores.Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said in a statement: “To accuse Virginia’s education system of failure is an outright lie, supported by cherry-picked data and warped perspective.”Although Youngkin has rejected equity initiatives in education and called “equity” a “very confusing word,” he promised on Thursday to address racial and socioeconomic performance gaps by providing more funding for school facilities, raises for teachers, and innovation in early childhood and literacy programs — all things expected to be included in the two-year state budget that the General Assembly must finalize before July 1. And he vowed to employ the best teachers to serve the students most in need.AdvertisementThe Education Department report also outlines steps to improve students’ academic skills, including developing an improved in-state assessment system, revising Virginia’s school accreditation standards and hiring reading specialists to improve student literacy.At Thursday’s news conference, Virginia’s top education officials condemned education policy decisions made by previous administrations, especially a 2017 revision of Virginia accreditation standards that allowed students’ academic progress to count toward accreditation along with their test scores. Education Secretary Aimee Guidera said such initiatives were part of a misguided push for equity.“There was a general culture of lowering expectations,” Guidera said. “What happened before was we took our eye off the ball in the state of Virginia.”AdvertisementAdded Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow: “This report is a renewal of our shared purpose … Virginia is moving forward in a new direction and we are focused on students first.”Exploring the ‘honesty gap’Asked about their biggest concerns with student performance, both Guidera and Balow pointed to the “honesty gap.” This measures the difference between Virginia students’ pass rates on state-level assessments known as Standards of Learning, or SOLs, and their performance on a test known as the National Assessment of Educational Performance, or NAEP.The report compares the percentage of Virginia fourth- and eighth-graders who achieved passing rates in mathematics and reading SOLs in 2015, 2017 and 2019 with the percentage of Virginia fourth- and eighth-graders who scored “at or above proficient” on the NAEP in those same three years. In each of these three years, the percentage of Virginia students achieving passing rates on the SOL hovered around 70 percent — but the percentage of students scoring “proficient” on the NAEP measured between 30 and 40 percent. The report calls these differences “troubling.”AdvertisementBut that’s not an appropriate compariso …

Article Attribution | Read More at Article Source

Share This