VA General Assembly Update

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The 2015 Virginia legislative session begins Wednesday, January 14. VSTE is working with the Virginia Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (VAASCD) to become better advocates for education at the state level.

IMPORTANT UPDATE January 28, 2015

As you know the General Assembly is in session. There seems to be renewed interest in keeping the A-F rating system for schools, even though we expected it to be repealed this year. In order to move forward towards a better accountability system, we really need A-F to be repealed.  There are two versions of bills circulating right now. Both acknowledge that we are working to redesign the accreditation system; one includes a specific repeal of A-F and one does not.

These bills are still in Committee right now; if your legislator is on one of the education committees, now is a very important time to drive this message home. If your legislator is not on one of the committees, it’s still worth it to make a call or send an email, and we will ask you to do so again later when the bill comes before the full House and Senate. When you make your call, reference House Bill 1672 or Senate Bill 727.

Important Points To Make In Your Call:
- the Innovation Committee and the Board of Education agree that the accreditation system should be revised to include additional levels.
- these groups are working now to determine what these levels should be; VASCD, our partner, supports a “ladder-like” system that will not only show the rating of a school, but also trends (progress measures), areas of strength and areas for improvement.
- assigning a single letter grade as a school’s accreditation rating defeats these moves toward a better system before they have even had time to be developed.

There is momentum across Virginia to develop alternative assessments that provide a variety of ways for students to demonstrate what they know and can do. House Bill 1675 provides an option (this would be decided and approved at the division level) for students to earn verified credits under certain circumstances with less than 140 clock hours of instruction or by demonstrating mastery of SOL content and skills using an alternative assessment. This bill grew out of a recommendation of the Innovation Committee, and this morning even a legislator who is a member of that committee expressed concern about letting local divisions substitute alternate assessments for SOLs.  VASCD supports this proposal, which did pass out of Committee this morning after a nail-biter of a debate!  Please ask your House member to support this bill, understanding that the state will have guidelines to ensure the quality of the alternate assessments. Basically, our position is that once students can demonstrate the skills and are solid on the content of a course, they should not be prevented from moving on to more challenging, interesting, or relevant material while they mark time and wait for the test date to arrive. Again, under this legislation this would be a local option, not a requirement.

You can find information about how to contact your legislator on the Advocacy page.