Educational Editorial: Dr. Yvonne Brandon and accreditation

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Early one morning while getting my newspaper, I saw my long time neighbors, teachers in the City of Richmond, and complimented them on their recent achievement.

On February 8, 2007, Dr. Yvonne Brandon, then Associate Superintendent, gave testimony before the US Senate. She said:

Approximately 25,000 students attend public schools in Richmond.  … 89.19 percent are African American… 19 percent  have disabilities.

In the past few years, we have seen a steady increase in our ESL student population, with Hispanic students representing the fastest growing segment of that population.

Additionally, nearly 70 percent of our students qualify for free and/or reduced lunch.

And, a significant number of our students come from single-parent homes and reside in low-income housing.  In other words, Richmond Public Schools includes all of the characteristics of urban school districts across this nation.

What is not so typical is that the Commonwealth of Virginia implemented its Standards of Learning (SOL) initiative in 1999, a high-stakes testing program that required every local school district to meet achievement benchmarks in all four core academic subject areas.

To become fully accredited, 70 percent of a school's student population must pass the tests.  In year one, only two of Richmond's schools earned full accreditation.  In 2002, that number reached 10.

The progress was neither expedient nor acceptable."

In a press conference on September 15, Superintendent Brandon noted, "… just eight years ago, only 19 percent of our schools were fully accredited.  Today, that number stands at 100 percent."

While there are many challenges, this is a major victory!

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