VA Schools Superintendents Discuss Education Initiatives - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

VA Schools Superintendents Discuss Education Initiatives

Posted: Updated: Jan 14, 2013 05:42 PM EST

State school superintendents have something to say about Governor McDonnell's new education initiatives. The Virginia Association of School Superintendents (VASS) met in Richmond Monday to discuss their stand on issues with legislators.

The group came together to talk issues including the effectiveness of Standards of Learning (SOL) assessments, accountability and state funding.

Charlottesville City Schools Superintendent Rosa Atkins was one of the speakers at Monday's meeting of school leaders.

"The most important issue is to have our association working with the legislators and the governor's office as the discussions are developing," she said.

Superintendents from across the commonwealth reviewed recommendations coming out of the governor's office and voiced their position on issues as a group.

"The VASS group came out and discussed their views and their points and support with the governor's legislation. They had some different viewpoints on some of the topics but they agreed on some of the topics," said Billy Haun, the assistant superintendent for student learning for Albemarle County Schools.

Choice and alternative education are issues that stand out for Atkins. She asks, "Are those very elements that impact our day-to-day operation? Who is considered a student in our school division, and how do we go about delivering instruction and making sure we have the resources that are necessary to have high-quality programs throughout the commonwealth?"

Albemarle County Public Schools says changes to assessment and accountability are at the forefront of their agenda.

"We really support the idea of having some alternative assessments in place of SOLs," said Haun. "One of the quotes they had today was 'SOLs are the 1990 solution to the problem that was identified in 1980 and now here we are in 2013, trying to prepare students for 21st century learning and we're using assessments that were developed 20 years ago to do that."

Albemarle County Public Schools says they are still in favor of accountability because the three "Rs"of education – reading, writing, arithmetic – are still important. But they think the four "Cs" – critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication – are more essential now than ever.

"We are looking forward to having an opportunity to do more performance-based assessment work, more authentic work, with 21st century skills in them," Haun said. "We're very excited that VASS has taken that position with the General Assembly and the legislation being proposed."

Haun says 57th District Delegate David Toscano has proposed a bill to make these changes possible.

Atkins says a recent report ranks Virginia fourth in quality of education, but graded the state a C- in funding. Area superintendents say money is needed to make sure Virginia schools continue to excel.

"We are doing an incredibly good job, that we have hardworking teachers and professionals in education that are dedicated to making sure we educate young people. What we need is for everyone to come alongside us and give us the funding that's necessary to not only be fourth, but to be first and beyond to actually change the face of education," said Atkins.

VASS is concerned the General Assembly continues to pass mandates that really don't have any funding. Haun says examples are new graduation requirements at Albemarle schools, where students have to take a virtual course and a financial literacy class to receive a high school diploma.

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