Governor McAuliffe announced today that the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) will award five $50,000 high school innovation planning grants to divisions that have proposed bold, innovative programs aimed at building the workforce of the 21stcentury.
The five divisions include Fairfax County, Newport News, Salem, Williamsburg-James City County and a Chesterfield-led consortium of 10 Richmond-area school divisions.
The grants, which were established by the 2015 General Assembly and signed by Governor McAuliffe as part of the budget, will allow local school divisions receiving the funds to enact their own specifically-designed program, free from the usual regulations imposed on school divisions.
The grants were the brainchild of the Standards of Learning Innovation Committee.
“Innovation is key to preparing our students to succeed in the new Virginia economy,” Governor McAuliffe said. “My administration has building a 21st Century education and workforce development system a high priority since day one, and I am excited to see how well our students in these 5 divisions perform once we unleash the creativity of our world-class schools.”
“These grants are a great first step towards preparing all of our students to succeed,” Secretary of Education Anne Holton said. “By allowing five divisions to develop their own individualized approaches, we have empowered our local education leaders and students like never before.”
Each of the approved grants include essential elements of high school innovation, including student-centered learning, “real-world” connections between learning and careers aligned with the needs of local employers, and alternative models for instruction and organization.
“Governor Terry McAuliffe and the General Assembly challenged school divisions to think outside the box and develop nontraditional approaches to instruction, measurement of content mastery and school governance,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples said. “These planning grants will allow the five most promising proposals to move from vision to reality.”
The funded proposals, listed by lead school division, are as follows:
- Chesterfield County (and Charles City County, Chesterfield County, Colonial Heights, Dinwiddie County, Goochland County, Hanover County, Henrico County, New Kent County, Powhatan County and Richmond) — Richmond Regional School for Innovation-CodeRVA. Regional program in partnership with community colleges and Richmond-area employers allowing students to graduate with an associate degree, industry certification and guaranteed employment.
- Fairfax County — Global STEM Challenges Program. A three-year, interdisciplinary program at Edison High in which students rotate freely between subjects and classrooms as they prepare for college and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
- Newport News — Re-Imagining High School: Student-Centered College-, Career-, and Citizen-Ready Micro Academies. Heritage High; A two-year pilot at Heritage High providing students with flexible scheduling, early exploration of college and career options, job shadowing, and long-term internships.
- Salem — Personalized Learning: Connecting Students to their Future. Personalized learning opportunities, curriculum changes, alternative scheduling and workplace learning to better prepare Salem High students for post-secondary employment.
- Williamsburg-James City County — High School by Design at Warhill. Curricular and structural innovations at Warhill High promoting self-directed learning projects, flexible pacing and student autonomy.
Additional funding beyond the planning grant will not be required; grantees will use existing state and local funding to implement the innovative programs. Each plan was developed so that it can be potentially replicated by other divisions with minimal costs.
Final plans are to be presented to the state Board of Education in April 2016. At that time, the board will consider requests for waivers of regulations that may be required for implementation.