On April 24, the Virginia Board of Education (VBOE) held its annual retreat to discuss and review its priorities and goals for revisions to the Standards of Quality (SOQs), which set minimum requirements that must be met by all local school divisions for K-12 education in Virginia. The Board reviews these standards every two years. Topics of discussion and potential recommendations were based on the Board’s Comprehensive Plan focused on the areas of equity, teacher workforce capacity and leadership, and a study of the state accreditation system.
The determination and prescription of the SOQs by the Board of Education is a constitutional mandate under Article VIII, Section 2 of the Constitution of Virginia, and is subject only to revision by the General Assembly. The SOQs have wide ranging fiscal impacts to localities as they determine a variety of factors including school staffing ratios, distribution of state aid, and other requirements for public education. The Board hopes to complete its review by September of this year and make formal recommendations to the General Assembly shortly thereafter.
Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) staff presented on 10 possible proposals for the Board to consider for revisions. Five of these proposals were new and five of had been proposed in previous revisions. The new proposals were: targeted compensation adjustments for experienced teachers in challenged schools, teacher leader position and staffing ratios including compensation, teacher mentors including staffing expectations, differentiated distribution of English Learner (EL) teachers based on proficiency levels of students in each school division, and the removal of the school nurse, school social worker, and school psychologist position from the SOQ support position category to create a new staffing category with specified ratios for these types of positions.
The older proposals were: reaffirm the 2016 recommendation to provide one full-time school counselor for every 250 students, reaffirm the 2016 recommendation to provide one full-time principal in every school, reaffirm the 2016 recommendation to provide one full-time assistant principal for every 400 students, reaffirm the 2016 recommendation to eliminate the support position cap, enhance VDOE data collection capabilities regarding school staffing.
All the new proposals in their current form would involve a combination of state funding and local required match. Additionally, any new standards approved by the Board would need to be funded by the General Assembly. In recent years there has been resistance from the General Assembly to fully funding Board recommendations.
VDOE staff intend to coordinate a public listening tour with local stakeholder workgroups at several locations across the state, beginning on May 9th in Smyth County. The meetings will begin with focus group work sessions at 4 pm., followed by public comment from 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. All meetings are open to the public; however, participation in the focus group portion of the meeting will be limited to invited guests. The meetings are scheduled for the following dates and locations:
Thursday, May 9
Location: Marion Senior High School, Smyth County
Address: 848 Stage Street, Marion, VA 24354
Tuesday, May 14
Prince Edward Middle School Cafetorium, Prince Edward County
Address: 35 Eagle Drive, Farmville, VA 23901
Tuesday, May 21
Benton Middle School Cafeteria, Prince William County
Address: 7411 Hoadly Road, Manassas, VA 20112
Wednesday, May 29
Location TBD, York County
VACo Contact: Jeremy R. Bennett