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On February 4, 2013 key parts of Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s educational initiatives received approval in the Virginia General Assembly. These initiatives include a measure overhauling teacher accountability and another simplifying the rating of public schools by using letter grades.
The Senate unanimously approved McDonnell’s Education Fairness Act which will allow local school boards to extend teacher probationary periods from three up to five years before they could receive continuing contract status.
Teachers, assistant principals and principals would receive annual performance evaluations that would factor in some measure of students’ academic progress. The bill, SB1223, would also provide an incompetence definition that includes one or more unsatisfactory performance evaluations, link evaluations to continuing contract status, and streamline grievance procedures.
The House of Delegates passed a companion bill, HB2151, to the Senate’s bill last week. The House also approved a separate bill, HB1999, that would rate schools using letter grades A to F for their overall performance.
A similar bill to the school grading system was put by for the day by the Senate due to amendments requiring growth factors which would take into account whether students make individual progress - even if expected benchmarks are not met - to be included in the grading.
The House also gave preliminary approval to a bill, HB2096, creating a new statewide entity to take over failing schools. This bill would create the Opportunity Educational Institution to assume control over any school that failed to receive accreditation two years in a row.
On February 3rd both the House and Senate finance committees released draft budgets that include a 2 percent raise for teachers – as McDonnell had requested. This would be the first increase for teachers since 2007. Readers should note this proposed raise does not include funding for teachers not required by the State Board of Education’s SOQ (Standards of Quality) nor does it provide funds for non-teaching positions. Certainly all of those who work so hard to educate our most valuable asset – our children - also deserve this 2% raisw.
Should this raise pass, it is hoped local government officials will not remove that amount from the fair share they should be providing to educate the children in their locality as has happened in the past. Contact those who make these decisions and make your opinion known.