Virginia Board of Education Standards of Quality Legislation

February 4, 2021

The Virginia Board of Education (VBOE) re-prescribed its biennial revisions to the state’s Standards of Quality (SOQ) in December 2020. Many of the Board’s recommendations remain unfunded in the Governor’s proposed revisions to the 2020-2022 budget and would require significant state and local funding. Two bills seek to codify the Board’s prescriptions.

HB 1929 (Aird) / SB 1257 (McClellan), as originally written, would codify several changes to the Standards of Quality, including requiring the establishment of a unit in the Department of Education to oversee work-based learning statewide and requires the Board of Education to establish and oversee the local implementation of teacher-leader and teacher-mentor programs and the establishment of a unit in the Department of Education to oversee principal mentorship. The bills would also establish schoolwide ratios of students to teachers in certain schools with high concentrations of poverty and grant flexibility to provide compensation adjustments to teachers in such schools, require each school board to assign licensed personnel in a manner that provides an equitable distribution of experienced, effective teachers, require state funding in addition to basic aid to support at-risk students, lower the ratio of English language learner students to teachers, lower the ratio of students to assistant principals and school counselors in elementary, middle, and high schools, and remove four specialized student support positions, including school social workers, school psychologists, school nurses, and other licensed health and behavioral positions, from the cap on support potions and require 4 of any of these positions per 1,000 students, among other items.

These proposals reflect VBOE’s identification of changes needed to the SOQs to provide high-quality, effective learning environments for all students. Many of the proposals such as the proposed ratio of student support positions, would address long-held positions of VACo to restore funding that was restructured as far back as the Great Recession and resulted in a significant loss of state support for K-12 education that did not reflect prevailing local practices. However, the bills in their original form would cost the state $462.3 million in FY 2022 if enacted.

Both bills were originally introduced during the 2020 General Assembly Session, and both were left in House Appropriations at that time. Reintroduced this year, HB 1929 reported from the House Education Committee, 21-1, and was referred to the House Appropriations Committee. SB 1257 was amended in the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee to be greatly reduced in scale to amend the SOQs to require and provide the state-share of funding for two specialized student support positions per 1,000 students. Committee discussion indicated a fiscal impact of $50 million to the state and the Committee reported the bill with the substitute language unanimously, 16-0.

VACo Contact: Jeremy R. Bennett

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