Northam awards high school innovation grants

virginiaGovernor Ralph Northam has awarded high school innovation grants to 10 school divisions to develop or implement programs that align with graduation requirements and emphasize personalized learning and the use of performance assessments to measure student achievement. The grants are for the 2018-2019 school year. Five school divisions received initial planning grants, while five divisions that received planning grants in 2017 were awarded a second year of funding to support implementation this fall.

Chesterfield County, Cumberland County, Montgomery County, Staunton and West Point will each receive $50,000 high school innovation first-year planning grants. Chesterfield County, Fairfax County, Manassas Park, Radford and Rockbridge County were each awarded $50,000 second-year implementation grants.

“Virginia educators are leading the way in innovative instruction, providing our students with opportunities to gain the skills they need to succeed academically as well as professionally,” said Governor Northam. “These grants will support school divisions as they create and implement programs to prepare our high school students for 21st-century career paths and build upon Virginia’s position as a national leader in education.”

“I applaud the educators in these divisions and schools for their boldness in developing innovations that put students on clear paths to success beyond high school, regardless of whether they go to college or enter the workforce directly after graduation,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni.

The five divisions awarded planning grants for the 2018-2019 school year are as follows:

  • Chesterfield County — Next Generation Career Academies at Clover Hill High, Matoaca High, Meadowbrook High and Midlothian High will build on the success of each school’s specialty center and incorporate personalized learning, performance-based assessment, project-based learning and workplace experiences to better prepare all students for post-secondary education and careers.
  • Cumberland County — The Ticket 2 Tomorrow program will meet student needs through personalized career exploration — both on and off campus — while incorporating career-based credit, including allowing students to accumulate portable credentials and digital badges to gauge acquisition of the “5 C’s” (critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, communication and citizenship) as they relate to the workforce.
  • Montgomery County — For students in grades 9-10, Blacksburg High’s Bruin Academy will provide work-based learning experiences with a focus on personalized instruction and project-based interdisciplinary courses. Career Pathways will offer routes to a diploma while preparing Blacksburg High juniors and seniors for careers in applied mathematics, health services, communications, computer technologies, natural sciences or engineering.
  • Staunton — The grant will support development of three “college/career corridors,” a performing arts center and a “multi-level” media center at Robert E. Lee High. The corridors and centers will offer courses aligned with college and career pathways. Student learning will be assessed through performance assessments and tasks.
  • West Point — The planning grant will support division-wide K-12 reforms, including the adoption of performance-based learning and performance assessments in all grades; the redesign of curricula to incorporate technology and workplace skills; the creation of flexibility in teaching, learning and scheduling; the fostering of a learning climate that promotes leadership by teachers.

“High school innovation is woven into the Board of Education’s Profile of a Virginia Graduate,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane. “Innovation to provide the academics, workplace skills, career planning opportunities and citizenship skills students must possess to meet the profile is some of the most exciting — and important — work in the Commonwealth’s public education system today.”

The Profile of a Virginia Graduate is the foundation of the high school graduation requirements that become effective with students entering the ninth grade this fall. The profile describes the academic content knowledge and the skills, experiences, and attributes essential for success in college and the workforce.

The five divisions awarded $50,000 second-year grants to support implementation during the 2018-2019 school year are as follows:

  • Chesterfield County — Monacan High and Thomas Dale High will continue working with the county government to create opportunities for students to work with county agencies to address local issues while developing citizenship skills. The program employs project-based learning and real-world experiences to motivate students and prepare them for the expectations of the workforce.
  • Fairfax County — J.E.B. Stuart High will utilize a curriculum to meet the instructional needs of English learners with little formal education while providing these students with opportunities for mentoring, career exploration and internships. The instructional program focuses on literacy, numeracy and workforce readiness.
  • Manassas Park — Manassas Park High will continue to expand and streamline several current programs to improve outcomes for a student population that includes increasing percentages of English learners and students with little formal education. Through its Creative Opportunities at Manassas Park to Achieve Student Success program, students who otherwise might not graduate or acquire English and other foundational skills necessary for success after high school will have customized pathways for achieving their educational and employment goals.
  • Radford — Radford High will continue its three-year transformation from a traditional secondary school into an integrated program that combines core academics with STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), career and technical education and training in cybersecurity. The program emphasizes inquiry-based learning and real-world experiences to engage students and promote 21st-century skills, such as collaboration and creativity.
  • Rockbridge County — Rockbridge County High will implement the Solutions STEM Academy that offers students career paths in 21st-century agriculture, energy and power and environmental technology, and features flexible scheduling and emphasis on problem solving, cross-curricular and project-based learning, and teamwork.

The high school innovation grant program was proposed by the advisory Standards of Learning Innovation Committee and initially approved by the 2015 General Assembly. 


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