Virginia Beach Education Association

VBEA to host education roundtable with Anne Holton, 85th Dist. candidate Cheryl Turpin, educators

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – January 5, 2017

Contact: Kelly Walker, VBEA President – (757) 486-0202, [email protected]

VIRGINIA BEACH – The Virginia Beach Education Association will be hosting an education roundtable with former Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton, 85th District candidate Cheryl Turpin and educators from Virginia Beach City Public Schools at 12 p.m. on Friday, January 6, 2017.

The discussion will center on state funding inequities, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and full-day kindergarten.

“Obviously, compensation is at the top of the list,” said VBEA president Kelly Walker.

The roundtable will be held in the VBEA conference room at 445 Kings Grant Road in Virginia Beach.

School Board approves updated grading policy

Superintendent says community wants to rely on professional expertise of teachers 

At its Sept. 7 meeting, the Virginia Beach School Board approved an updated policy to evaluate students that it says will help ensure grading consistency throughout the division.

Policy 6-72 now states, in part:

“The most important assessment of student learning is conducted by teachers as they observe and evaluate students in the context of ongoing classroom activities. Classroom teachers have the responsibility for evaluating student progress and providing grades to represent scholastic achievement. Grading is not to be used for discipline purposes.

The Superintendent shall be responsible for developing and implementing a uniform procedure for evaluating student progress across the School Division. Each school by grade level, department or specialized course shall develop and submit grading expectations for approval by the Department of School Leadership. The Superintendent will establish regulations describing procedures for such approval that are consistent with this policy, administrative grading guidelines, and law. Approved grading expectations will be effective for the 2017-18 school year and thereafter reviewed and approved annually.”

See full text of policy below.

Fair and Equitable Grading Practices Committee review

This approval of the new policy ends a year-long research and community input process. During the 2015-2016 school year, the Fair and Equitable Grading Practices Committee reviewed current VBCPS policy along with national research. It then provided the public with recommendations for best practices to grade students.

In addition, the public weighed in on these recommendations via a survey of all secondary teachers, VBCPS-hosted roundtable events and an e-Town Hall. Then, a group of parents submitted a number of recommendations to the committee. Those suggestions were also thoroughly reviewed as part of the evaluation process.

Teachers have ‘professional expertise’

“Overwhelmingly, after all these conversations about grading, the feedback we received from our community was to rely on the professional expertise of our teachers,” said VBCPS Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence.

“This change in policy allows us to do just that. Our teachers will be the ones to work together by department, grade level or specialized course to identify the grading practices that will be the most successful in their classrooms and buildings.

“Meanwhile, our grading guidelines, which clearly reflect the community input we received, will help provide some uniformity to the options available to our teachers, and they will ensure that every student in our schools can experience the same fundamental approach to grading from our division.”

Discussion continues

Also, as previously reported, school administration and teachers will spend this school year discussing the grading guidelines. Then, they will decide which practices they want to move forward with during the 2017-2018 school year.

From there, school committees and teams made up of parents, teachers and building administrators will review those plans to make sure they align with the division’s 2017-2018 guidelines.

Full text of updated policy

INSTRUCTION

Student Evaluation and Grading/Class Rank
  1. Evaluation and Grading: The most important assessment of student learning is conducted by teachers as they observe and evaluate students in the context of ongoing classroom activities. Classroom teachers have the responsibility for evaluating student progress and providing grades to represent scholastic achievement. Grading is not to be used for discipline purposes.The Superintendent shall be responsible for developing and implementing a uniform procedure for evaluating student progress across the School Division. Each school by grade level, department or specialized course shall develop and submit grading expectations for approval by the Department of School Leadership. The Superintendent will establish regulations describing procedures for such approval that are consistent with this policy, administrative grading guidelines, and law. Approved grading expectations will be effective for the 2017-18 school year and thereafter reviewed and approved annually.
  2. Class Rank: A student’s grade point average and class rank will be computed for the following purposes:
    1. Determine honor graduates.
    2. Determine if the student is eligible for the diploma seal awarded by the Virginia Board of Education.
    3. Communication to college admission offices and other agencies designated by the student and/or parent.
    4. Determine the valedictorians and salutatorians for the graduating class.
  3. Appeal of student grades: Grades assigned to students will be presumed final and valid unless changed through appeal. The Superintendent will establish criteria and procedures for appealing specific grades. Such appeals will be final as set forth in applicable regulation and there shall be no right of appeal to the Superintendent or the School Board.

From VBCPS news release

Affordable Pathways Grants aims to help college-bound students

RICHMOND – Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe announced a new grant program today that will provide Virginia students with a clearer path to a higher education.

As many as four public two- and four-year colleges will receive the Affordable Pathways grants (up to $140,000 each). However, grant recipients must have a partnership with a Pre-K-12 program. They must also demonstrate how they would use the funds to implement and expand programs that help students save money and earn degrees, certificates or workforce credentials more efficiently.

“These Affordable Pathways grants help ensure that our higher education system is accessible and affordable for all Virginia students and aid our goal to streamline student learning from K-12 to higher learning and workforce training,” said governor Terry McAuliffe. “As we build a new Virginia economy, we will continue to improve degree completion rates and provide opportunities for workers to strengthen their skills so our Commonwealth maintains our competitive edge, both nationally and globally.”

The one-time grants will support programs that make it easier and more affordable for students to earn early college credit and improve completion rates. The grants will target programs that help students who normally have had barriers to education and lead to a degree, certificate or workforce credential.

“Our students thrive when they are given access to clear, efficient pathways to higher education and the workforce,” said Virginia secretary of education Dietra Trent.

“These grants will help reinforce these pathways and ensure continued academic and professional success, especially for students from challenging environments.”

The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) will administer the grants and the Fund for Excellence and Innovation will fund them. The General Assembly established the Fund for Excellence and Innovation this year.

“Bridges that connect our primary, secondary and post-secondary institutions are critical to ensure our students succeed in education, find the jobs they need and contribute to their communities,” said G. Gilmer Minor III, chair of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. “We thank Governor McAuliffe and the leadership of the House of Delegates and Senate for their support in making Virginia the best-educated state by 2030.”

From Office of Governor Terry McAuliffe news release

Va. Dept. of Education awards $50K grant to Green Run HS

RICHMOND – Virginia Beach City Public Schools, and Green Run High School in particular, will receive a $50,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Education to combine blended learning and internships aligned with students’ needs and interests.

Through the program, students at Green Run will have a choice of college and career pathways, including industry credentialing, internships with local businesses, and advanced academic programs at local colleges.

VBCPS was one of five school divisions in Virginia to receive a $50,000 grant; Bedford County, Madison County, Williamsburg-James City County and Hampton were the others.

In addition, four programs that received planning grants in 2015 have been awarded $50,000 grants to support implementation this fall.

The grants were the brainchild of the Standards of Learning Innovation Committee.

“In order to build the workforce of the future, we must ensure that we are preparing all of our students to succeed in the new Virginia economy,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe. “With this second round of high school innovation grants, we are not only taking another positive step in that direction, we are also supporting the bold ideas of our education leaders and changing high school as we know it.”

This round of competitive grants was authorized by the 2016 General Assembly in order to encourage school divisions to develop innovative programs that emphasize personalized learning, alignment with local workforce needs, and college and career readiness.

“These new funds will help build upon the momentum created by the first round of grants while informing our work to redesign high school,” said Secretary of Education Anne Holton. “When we empower our divisions to pursue their own individualized approaches and allow the educators on the ground to be creative, we pave the way for student success.”

“The grants will allow these school divisions to plan and implement new approaches to engage and motivate students and increase their readiness for postsecondary education and training,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples said. “At each of the participating high schools, students will benefit from programs that connect classroom learning and career goals, and opportunities to acquaint themselves with the expectations of the workplace.”

 

VBEA at the NEA Convention

VBEA members were in Washington, D.C. at the National Education Association Convention from July 1-8 representing the interests of Virginia Beach educators as well as those statewide during the 2016 representative assembly.

President Kelly Walker, vice president Barbara Powell and secretary Dawn Euman, along with board members Cameron Baker and Jessica Baker, as well as immediate past president Trenace Riggs and College Park association representative Brittany Jones have been in DC representing the interests of VBEA members and educators in Virginia Beach.

Among the highlights of the convention, it is taking a stand on the school-to-prison pipeline and heard from teacher of the year Jahana Hayes, who urged educators to “never underestimate their potential to transform their students’ lives.”

“As a teacher I am so emotionally invested in the success of my students that I sometimes forget that I deserve the respect and dignity of being a professional,” Hayes told the delegates.  “[My union] ensures that I am treated like the professional that I am and my creativity is not stifled by mandates. My union advocates on my behalf and creates a structure that protects me from myself.”

Delegates also heard from NEA-endorsed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who told the more-than-7,000 in attendance that “I have this old-fashioned idea that we should listen to the teachers and the support professionals who are with our kids every day.”

NEA executive director John Stocks also called on delegates to give a voice to a new generation of educators.

It’s time to stop talking and start listening, Stocks said. NEA shouldn’t tell new educators what they want or need to succeed, it should ask them what they need. Don’t tell them what the union can do for them, ask them how the union can help them.

The NEA and its affiliates are already immersed in this urgent work, creating pathways in every district to hold one-on-one conversations with potentially every single one of the 173,000 new hires entering our schools in the fall.

It’s near and dear to the heart of the VBEA, as our own Brittany Jones helped push for a NewEd initiative to be implemented statewide and here in Virginia Beach (Here’s what NewEd is all about).

This was the final NEA convention for outgoing Virginia Education Association president Meg Gruber and for VEA director of government relations Robley Jones, who VBEA immediate past president Trenace Riggs called “a wonderful person and a great government relations expert for the VEA for the past 17 years. And before that 18 years as a classroom teacher, 5 years as a VBEA and VEA President. WOW !!!!! An awesome man who served public education with dedication.”

For a behind-the-scenes look from the VBEA perspective, check out the short videos below, taken by board member Cameron Baker.

For more news from the convention, visit the NEA’s representative assembly page. Also, see how the NEA acted on approved new business items from its 2015 convention, and see what it has adopted during the 2016 gathering.

To learn more about the Virginia Beach Education Association and stay up to date on news and other membership issues, visit vbea.org. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates and Instagram for photos from our members and events.