VA Board of Education prescribes updates to Standards of Quality

The Standards of Quality drive around 85% of state funding.
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Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 3:34 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ/Virginia Board of Education Release) - The public school system throughout the commonwealth could be getting multiple boosts after the Virginia Board of Education prescribed a number of benefits at its business meeting last week.

The suggested upgrades are to the Standards of Quality, which deal with the foundational instructional programs and support services that all schools must provide and drive around 85% of state funding for local school divisions. The Board of Education is required by the Constitution of Virginia to prescribe Standards of Quality for the public schools throughout the state, only available for the General Assembly to revise.

“The Board of Education has again prescribed a strong set of research-driven Standards of Quality prescriptions that, if implemented, will address systemic inequities, help mitigate the impact of poverty on learning and improve outcomes for all Virginia students,” President Daniel Gecker said.

“The 11 prescribed revisions and estimated biennial costs, approved by the Board of Education during its October business meeting are, in no particular order, as follows:

● Enhanced At-Risk Add-On — Consolidates the current At-Risk Add-On as well as the state Prevention, Intervention and Remediation programs into a single, expanded fund that is distributed to divisions for instructional interventions based on their concentrations of students in poverty. It also includes language directing school boards to equitably distribute experienced, effective teachers and other personnel among all schools, and prohibits the clustering of ineffective teachers in any school or group of schools. ($87.5 million)

● Teacher Leader and Mentor Programs — Establishes a new Teacher Leader program and expands the Teacher Mentor program. ($229.9 million)

● Reading Specialists — Sets a minimum staffing ratio for reading specialists in grades K-5 determined by the number of students failing third-grade Standards of Learning reading assessments. ($77.9 million)

● English Learner Teachers — Sets a scaled staffing ratio based on proficiency level of students and the instructional staff required to support these students. ($30 million)

● Principal Mentorship — Establishes a statewide principal mentorship program. ($2.4 million)

● Work-Based Learning Coordinators — Provides regional coordinators to support work-based learning and the implementation of the Profile of a Virginia Graduate. ($2.4 million)

● Elementary School Principals — Requires a full-time principal for every elementary school, regardless of enrollment. ($19.1 million)

● Assistant Principals — Sets a ratio of one full-time assistant principal for each 400 students. ($154.3 million)

● Class Size Reduction and Experienced Teachers for K-3 — Moves the state K-3 class size reduction program from the Appropriation Act to the SOQ. (No state cost)

● Specialized Student Support Personnel — Establishes a ratio of four specialized student support personnel per 1,000 students for school nurses, social workers, psychologists, and other licensed health and behavioral positions. ($102.5 million)

● School Counselors — Establishes a ratio of one school counselor per 250 students. ($106.4 million)”

The proposals and legislation will be presented to Governor Ralph Northam and the 2022 General Assembly along with budget estimates.

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