State of the Division
State of the Division 2020
A Time Unlike Any Other
When the 2019-20 school year dawned on August 21, 2019, it opened the window on what was widely anticipated to be an exciting and influential year for the division’s more than 14,000 students and their families, our many community partners, and nearly 3,000 employees.
We were looking forward to several powerful programs that would reduce learning and opportunity gaps, including an expansion of culturally responsive teaching certifications and professional development; the inauguration of a talent development model that would tap the passions and capabilities of not some, but all students; and the beginning of a division-wide training and development program fully implementing our anti-racism policy.
We also were on the cusp of a community-wide collaboration that would modernize a strategic plan dating back to 2012, thereby extending the expansion of student choice in all grade levels. This expansion in turn would more closely align curriculum and work- and project-based learning opportunities with student passions and potential.
Then March 13, 2020, happened. In a matter of days, schools across the Commonwealth closed, and while the education process didn’t stop, school divisions were compelled to readjust their operations to fit within strict public health and safety boundaries.
The rise of virtual instruction reshaped plans. An important component of our annual State of the Division report, data from Standards of Learning (SOL) tests, is not included this year, following the state’s decision to suspend all SOL tests and school accreditations for 2019-20. And while SOL tests will be administered in the 2020-21 school year, accreditations again will be suspended.
Under direction from the state department of education, instructional plans and activities carried out in the spring of 2020 initially consisted of reviewing content previously taught and were not graded. Almost immediately, and escalating during the summer months, teachers and administrators across all schools in our division concentrated their time and attention on specific professional development devoted to virtual learning, researched best practices, and planned for how best to leverage the virtual instruction now in place for most students.
While classrooms at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year look nothing like those that began the 2019-20 school year, in many ways, virtual platforms have offered expanded opportunities for innovation, engagement, and real life-based learning. Some of these lessons learned will undoubtedly be adapted into future curriculum and learning activities as in-person instruction possibilities begin to increase for many more students.
In the wake of these developments, in their budget message for the current school year, then School Board Chair Jonno Alcaro and Superintendent Dr. Matthew Haas said, “Public schools have always been a powerful catalyst for history’s most successful economic development and prosperity stories. Our strengths as a collaborative community of shared purpose make us even surer of that.”
A good part of that confidence comes from the willingness of the division to publicly celebrate success and openly confront challenges. While the current school year is different, the division’s accountability to stakeholders is not. You’ll find in this report the guiding document for all we do, our current strategic plan. There is new information on our progress in addressing the learning opportunity gap through a focus on equity data. Where available, student performance measures, such as Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores, are detailed.
A new metric is included in support of the division’s one strategic goal ensuring that all graduates actively master the lifelong-learning skills they need to succeed as 21st century learners, workers and citizens. In what will become an annual component of this report, the results of our first survey of 2020 graduates on their life after high school will provide insight into how well we are meeting this commitment.
Information on the operations of the division’s schools and departments is updated, including mission, goals, outcomes and forecasts. Also featured in this report is data on student enrollment and individual school capacity, as well as teacher demographics and related documents and reports.
As the new year continues to unfold, we invite you to email us at email@example.com to offer your views and guidance and your ideas for the strategic plan work now underway. Following a series of public informational meetings over the next several months, a new strategic plan will go before the School Board for adoption next spring.
State of the Division 2018 (Presentation to the School Board; PDF)
State of the Division 2017 (web page)
State of the Division 2016 (web page)
State of the Division 2015 (web page)
State of the Division 2011 (PDF)
Virginia School Quality Profiles
For every school division and school in the Commonwealth, the Virginia Department of Education provides a School Quality Profile containing information about student achievement, college and career readiness, program completion, school safety, teacher quality, and other topics of interest to parents and the general public.