Virginia House Republicans are rolling out their plan to reform K-12 education in the commonwealth.
A GOP delegate faced the frontlines - more than 100 school superintendents together in one room in the Charlottesville Omni Hotel Monday - to release the party's plan, called "A Path for Every Child." Republican Delegate Tag Greason unveiled to Virginia's school superintendents the party's agenda for K-12 education ahead of the 2014 General Assembly session.
"We can get better buy-in and better discussions and better product if we're standing talking to each other now versus then," Greason said.
The GOP plan calls for assessment reform, which would mean fewer Standards of Learning tests and more emphasis on challenging students to solve problems.
"I think it will give us the opportunity to spend more time on career and college readiness," Greason said.
Republicans will support blended learning programs where students combine class time with virtual courses their schools don't offer.
"This is about a path for every child, a personalized path for every child so they're challenged," Greason said.
Greason is defending his A-to-F school grading bill, which passed the General Assembly last session. Fluvanna County Superintendent Gena Keller argues schools are not like consumer reports.
"We don't have equipment; we have children in our schools. There have to be evaluation tools that measure the complexities of the learning evolution of a child," Keller said.
Virginia school superintendents are urging lawmakers to take a non-partisan approach to improving education in the commonwealth. It's a challenge Greason is guaranteeing to take back to Richmond in 2014.
"We will not succeed in the next century with an outdated educational infrastructure," Greason said.
The Republican plan also calls for lawmakers to establish career ladders to offer teachers opportunities for professional growth so they stay in the classroom. Superintendents are leery of how the state plans to fund this agenda.
Virginia GOP Press Release
House Republicans Outline 2014 K-12 Agenda
RICHMOND, VA - Republican leaders in the Virginia House of Delegates outlined their 2014 K-12 agenda on Monday, calling for an end to the era of mass production in education and emphasizing the need to empower teachers and educators with the flexibility and tools they need to create "a path for every child."
"Last year, we worked with stakeholders to make a number of innovative reforms to our K-12 system intended to recognize and reward Virginia's great teachers, emphasize innovation and flexibility in the classroom and promote accountability at all levels of our education system, said House Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights). "Today, we have outlined a broad vision that builds on last year's reforms. We envision a Virginia where every child has the opportunity to succeed in his or her own way, regardless of background or where he or she was born. Whether it is assessment reform, the use of student growth measures or increasing the number of virtual classrooms, we are dedicated to empowering teachers, parents and students with the tools they need to succeed. We look forward to continuing to discuss this vision and implementing it through legislation during the 2014 session."
"The reforms the General Assembly enacted last year were an important first step toward building the best K-12 education system in the world," said Senator Frank M. Ruff, Jr. (R-Mecklenburg). "Today, Republicans have outlined a vision for building on what was accomplished last year. I think this is a plan that will be very well received in the Senate and we look forward to working with the House during the 2014 General Assembly session."
The House Republican plan includes reforming the Standards of Learning, utilizing the use of Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT), increasing the use of student growth measures, increasing the number of virtual classrooms and establishing "teacher career ladders."
"Virginia's Standards of Learning have served our students and teachers well since they were created. They have set the bar high and fostered accountability in our school system," said Delegate Tag Greason (R-Loudoun). "But we believe they can be improved. Our plan is to reduce the number of tests and reform them in a way that empowers educators with flexibility to meet the unique educational needs of each student. For our students, we want to maintain that sense of accountability, but we want to increase the emphasis on critical thinking, problem-solving and analytical skills. Additionally, we believe Computer Adaptive Testing is another tool that will allow us to individually assess and evaluate the growth and progress of our students."
"As a mother, I know that every child is unique. Every child learns differently and at a different pace. We believe our education system should reflect this," said Delegate Margaret Ransone (R-Westmoreland). "Last year, Virginia began to develop student growth measures as a tool to evaluate our students, teachers and schools. We want to expand the use of student growth measures in order to help teachers individually tailor the learning experience. We also want to expand the number of virtual classrooms in Virginia. Using technology, we can offer more courses in more subjects to more students. We can give parents and students choices and opportunities in developing a customized educational curriculum that fits the needs of the individual student."
"The reforms we have outlined today are critical to developing a personalized educational path for every child, but we cannot expect our children to walk those paths alone," said Cox. "Teachers are the cornerstones on which the success of Virginia's K-12 system are built. Virginia must find a way to keep the best teachers in the classroom. To do that, we are developing teacher career ladders; a system in which teachers can grow professionally and advance economically without being forced to leave the classroom. As an educator who spent his entire professional career in the classroom, I know this is a system that teachers will very much appreciate."
Delegate Tag Greason unveiled the plan in a speech at the Virginia Association of School Superintendents Annual Legislative Conference. Delegate Greason's full remarks can be found here. A summary of the proposals can be found here.
Delegate Unveils GOP Agenda for Education in 2014More>>