Here are the new Standards of Quality for Virginia’s public schools

Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Public schools across the Commonwealth could be getting a boost.

The State Board of Education has prescribed several revisions to the Standards of Quality (SOQ). The SOQ sets a foundation for what kind of programs and support services all schools must provide, and drives 85% of state funding for local school divisions.

The board is required by the Constitution of Virginia to prescribe Standards of Quality for public schools across the state, only available for the General Assembly to revise.

“The Board of Education has again prescribed a strong set of research-driven Standards of Quality prescriptions that, if implemented, will address systemic inequities, help mitigate the impact of poverty on learning and improve outcomes for all Virginia students,” Board of Education President Daniel Gecker said.

The 11 revisions and estimated costs are as follows:

⦁ Enhanced At-Risk Add-On — Consolidates the current At-Risk Add-On as well as the state Prevention, Intervention and Remediation programs into a single, expanded fund that is distributed to divisions for instructional interventions based on their concentrations of students in poverty. It also includes language directing school boards to equitably distribute experienced, effective teachers and other personnel among all schools, and prohibits the clustering of ineffective teachers in any school or group of schools. ($87.5 million)
⦁ Teacher Leader and Mentor Programs — Establishes a new Teacher Leader program and expands the Teacher Mentor program. ($229.9 million)
⦁ Reading Specialists — Sets a minimum staffing ratio for reading specialists in grades K-5 determined by the number of students failing third-grade Standards of Learning reading assessments. ($77.9 million)
⦁ English Learner Teachers — Sets a scaled staffing ratio based on proficiency level of students and the instructional staff required to support these students. ($30 million)
⦁ Principal Mentorship — Establishes a statewide principal mentorship program. ($2.4 million)

⦁ Work-Based Learning Coordinators — Provides regional coordinators to support work-based learning and the implementation of the Profile of a Virginia Graduate. ($2.4 million)
⦁ Elementary School Principals — Requires a full-time principal for every elementary school, regardless of enrollment. ($19.1 million)
⦁ Assistant Principals — Sets a ratio of one full-time assistant principal for every 400 students. ($154.3 million)
⦁ Class Size Reduction and Experienced Teachers for K-3 — Moves the state K-3 class size reduction program from the Appropriation Act to the SOQ. (No state cost)
⦁ Specialized Student Support Personnel — Establishes a ratio of four specialized student support personnel per 1,000 students for school nurses, social workers, psychologists, and other licensed health and behavioral positions. ($102.5 million)
⦁ School Counselors — Establishes a ratio of one school counselor per 250 students. ($106.4 million)

The board started the revision process in June and approved the changes at its October meeting.

“Since the last review cycle two years ago, legislation aligned with the board’s recommendations improved ratios for school counselors and English learner teachers, established a specialized student support personnel category, removed staffing flexibility, and expanded at-risk add-on funding,” Gecker said. “We are grateful for the progress made to date, however, none of the board’s 2019 prescriptions have been fully implemented. With today’s prescriptions, the board is again presenting the General Assembly with Standards of Quality that will directly affect and improve student success in Virginia. In particular, the enhanced at-risk add-on prescription would most significantly impact student achievement by supporting students in lower-resourced schools with the most experienced teachers.”

The new revisions and budget estimates will now be presented to Governor Ralph Northam and the 2022 General Assembly.

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