Report: Virginia schools fourth in nation
The nation’s leading education journal today ranked Virginia as fourth in the nation in overall educational quality and performance. Education Week’s Quality Counts 2013 report awarded the Commonwealth a letter grade of B; only Maryland — with a B+ — earned a higher overall letter grade, although Massachusetts and New York also received B’s. Virginia also earned a B and was ranked fourth in the 2012 Quality Counts report.
“Virginia is blessed to have some of the best schools, school systems and teachers in the nation but all students deserve to attend excellent schools with great teachers.” Gov. Bob McDonnell said. “The closer we come to achieving this goal, the closer the Commonwealth will be to ranking at the very top in national reports such as Quality Counts. We must continue to bring innovative solutions to Virginia schools in order to ensure that all students are prepared for the jobs of the future.”
McDonnell’s bold “All Students” initiative includes legislative proposals to reward and recognize excellent teachers, broaden educational opportunities, and strengthen instruction and accountability in the Commonwealth’s public schools. These proposals include:
• Establishing an A-F rating system for public schools
• Instituting new accountability, support and governance measures for chronically low-performing schools
• Increasing support and accountability for early reading achievement
• Incorporating the Early Intervention Reading and Algebra Readiness initiatives into the state’s Standards of Quality
• Creating the Governor’s Center for Excellence in Teaching to provide professional development opportunities for exemplary teachers
• Establishing the Strategic Compensation Grant Initiative to reward effective teacher leaders assuming additional responsibility or priority assignments
• Extending the probationary period for new teachers to allow a more thoughtful examination of performance before they can earn continuing contract status while streamlining grievance procedures for experienced teachers
• Placing Teach-for-America graduates in hard-to-staff schools
“I am proud to see Virginia has again ranked at the top of the Quality Counts report,” said Secretary of Education Laura Fornash. “Governor McDonnell’s innovative All Students initiative and legislative agenda will better support teachers and students, provide staffing flexibility for school divisions, and ensure that our students have the resources to graduate high school, college or career ready to succeed in the jobs of the 21st Century.”
Quality Counts grades are based on the performance of states in six broad areas: the role of education in promoting success at various stages of life; K-12 student achievement; rigor and quality of academic standards, assessments and accountability systems; teacher preparation, licensure and evaluation; school finance; and transitions and alignment of state policies related to school, college and workforce readiness.
Virginia’s Quality Counts letter grade for transitions and policy alignment rose from a B- to a B as a result of actions Governor McDonnell and the General Assembly took last year to require industry certifications for all students graduating high school with a standard diploma. Additionally, the work of the state superintendent and state Board of Education to define college and career readiness was recognized in the Commonwealth’s ranking.
The Quality Counts is Education Week’s annual report on state-level efforts to improve public education. The Quality Counts 2013 report is available online. Reports from previous years are also available.