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‘Disturbing trends’ highlighted in Va. Department of Education report

The report cites declines in reading and literacy, as well as math.
Published: May. 19, 2022 at 10:54 AM EDT|Updated: May. 19, 2022 at 6:11 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Virginia Department of Education released a report Thursday that says it’s time to reverse “disturbing trends” in the Commonwealth.

The report cites declines in reading and literacy, as well as math. It also says that four out of 10 children are not ready for kindergarten.

“They won’t catch up without significant intervention. That’s just an absolutely heartbreaking fact,” said Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

Since 2015, the percentage of state students earning a passing score has fallen from third to ninth in the nation.

A deeper dive reveals before the pandemic, only 33% of 8th graders are proficient in reading, and only 38% of 4th graders hit the same mark.

“The gap between student proficiently scores on state assessments and grade level proficiency benchmarks on NAEP is growing for all students and more rapidly and wider for Black and Brown students,” said Dr. Rosa Atkins of the VDOE Chief Diversity Office.

The governor says lower accreditation requirements created in 2017 have lowered the learning bar inside the classroom. He’s now comparing Virginia students to nationwide standards.

“We know where the puck is going. We know the demands for skills, for knowledge, for content knowledge is only going to increase. The race for talent is on,” said Aimee Guidera, Virginia’s Secretary of Education.

State Democrats, including Sen. Jennifer McClellan, say the crisis has been brewing for a while, but the reason is not changes to accreditation standards.

“The governor is confusing the symptom with the underlying cause, and the test scores have been all over the major for a while. The changes by the board of education were designed to make sure we were meeting every student where they are,” said McClellan, D-9th District.

She says it’s about a lack of funding and investments in the education system. The state’s two-year budget is still pending.

“Hopefully, the governor, seeing that this is a crisis, we can finally get some movement on fully funding our K-12 education needs,” said McClellan.

WATCH GOV. YOUNGKIN ADDRESS THE REPORT:

VEA President James J. Fedderman made the following statement Thursday regarding the release of a Virginia Department of Education report on achievement gaps:

“The Youngkin administration’s plan for Virginia’s 1.2 million public school students is now crystal clear: They will accept nothing short of privatizing our entire public education system in the name of “school choice,” and they are willing to say and do almost anything to make it happen.

“This “report” does little to advance its stated goal but goes to great lengths to disrespect and belittle the amazing work Virginia educators have done, and continue to do, under incredibly difficult circumstances. By ignoring the solid educational achievements made by Virginia students over the past several years while promoting politically convenient terms like “honesty gap,” this report only serves to further the Governor’s political agenda while failing to address any of the real needs in the Commonwealth’s classrooms.

“For all the talk of leading with data, the report displays a shocking lack of commitment to best practices when it comes to analysis – using anomaly years to assert trends, highlighting analysis from more than seven years ago when current data is available, and ignoring critical variables like years when our state test standards and formats changed. The report barely mentions our most worrying achievement gap trends, such as those for English Language Learners.

“Through blatant manipulation of data and failing to uplift the most obvious achievement gap challenges in Virginia, it’s clear the real intent of the report is political in nature.

“If Governor Youngkin is concerned about an “honesty gap,” he need look no further than his own office to find it.”

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