Clarification and Additional Information

Jillian Balow, Superintendent of Public Instruction

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

In a recent article, I discussed the progress that the Department of Education (DOE) and the Board of Education have made toward fulfilling two of the top educational priorities of the administration—increasing the SOL “cut scores” and revamping the school accreditation process.

In my research for the article, I overlooked, and thus did not report, a presentation made at the Board’s October work session.  The presenter was a senior policy fellow at ExcelinED, a nonprofit organization based in Florida.  Using Florida as an example, she advocated the use of a school accountability system that ranks schools on a scale of A to F.  Only a few states use such a system and doing so in Virginia would entail a radical change from the approach the Commonwealth has used in the past.

It seems that Jillian Balow, Superintendent of Public Instruction, whom I assume has the most influence over what is presented at Board work sessions, is preparing the Board members, especially the new ones, for a major examination, and possible overhaul, of the school accreditation standards and process.  It will not be something that can be done quickly or easily.

The presentation and video of the work session can be found here.

(A Hat Tip to Charles Pyle of the Dept. of Education for bringing this omission to my attention.)

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


15 responses to “Clarification and Additional Information”

  1. Kathleen Smith Avatar
    Kathleen Smith

    I viewed this video before your last article. I am glad you posted. I am not in favor of A-F. Too many choices. Make it or don’t make it. Petersburg hasn’t made it for 22 years. Now what? Two generations of kids. The consequences of not making it have not been stated.

  2. LarrytheG Avatar

    Want to thank you, once again, for your honesty and forthrightness is presenting issues in general and when an error or question is at issue.

    We could use a lot more of that on BR IMO.

    We could use a lot more of posts in general that are not disingenuous and cherry-pick selectively to make points that are really not solidly legitimate.

    I thank you for NOT doing that and instead sticking to honest and straight-forward narratives.

    1. democracy Avatar


      Ask Mr. Bacon to publish my comment oNAEP scores.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        What you’ve posted here is interesting but Dick is much more likely to give it a fair look and honest commentary IMO.

        You don’t need JAB to “publish” your comments, which you are already making.

        Do you want to write a blog post? If so, contact JAB about it.

        I’d certainly be interested in hearing your views about NAEP especially if you have data and facts that relate.

  3. Kathleen Smith Avatar
    Kathleen Smith

    I viewed this video before your last article. I am glad you posted. I am not in favor of A-F. Too many choices. Make it or don’t make it. Petersburg hasn’t made it for 22 years. Now what? Two generations of kids. The consequences of not making it have not been stated. Perhaps charters should only be allowed where public schools have failed.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      not to ask an unfair question, but can the problem in Petersburg be fixed by better “leadership” or is the problem more fundamental and organic?

  4. Matt Hurt Avatar

    Dr. Hovanetz made some good recommendations during the presentation. One of the best she proposed was to make sure that any accountability indicators align exactly with desired outcome. It seems to me that this is not currently the case. For example, our SOL proficiencies have declined significantly from 2019, yet the overall school accreditation ratings have remained about the same. The current accountability system has morphed over time to contort the data to ensure things “look” good instead of ensuring the success of our students.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      What will happen if we DO better align accreditation with SOL scores?

      Won’t it lead to more schools failing accreditation ?

      1. Matt Hurt Avatar

        If that’s all we do, you are correct. If folks don’t think their kids can achieve to that level, they won’t bust their butts to make sure they do. There have to be some incentives in place to get folks to change their paradigm (that our kids can achieve and that it’s our duty to make sure that happens). We haven’t had that. In fact, if you look, the accountatibilty system has grown ever more cumbersome over the years, most of it has had the effect of excusing poor performance. We need to simplify it and ensure that it incentivizes desired outcomes and doesn’t hide poor performance.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          What are the current consequences for failure to gain accreditation?

          Does cause changes?

          1. Matt Hurt Avatar

            Folks from Richmond will kick in the front door of your school and make you do all kinds of stuff you would rather not do. In the past, some of it was actually antithetical to what has proven to be effective strategies. Unfortunately, they don’t have an algorithm to address the non-tangibles that differentiate successful schools from unsuccessful schools. Those intangibles (expectations/relationships) are where the magic is.

          2. LarrytheG Avatar

            So it looks like there’s a move afoot to do something about accreditation standards.

            And it looks like changing that is simply a paperwork thing.

            But proposals as to what happens after might be pretty interesting as to whether changes to public schools or moves to alternatives.

            In other states like Wisconsin, it has led to “choice” schools – private schools with state-funded tuition that is means-tested and no school can deny enrollment for any reason.

            Mississippi OTOH has basically made fundamental changes to the way all public schools are operated – early childhood literacy, etc.

          3. Matt Hurt Avatar

            The thing that worries me about change in accountability is whether those making the changes understand the incentives necessary to ensure desirable outcomes. As we are too well aware, the path to Hell is paved with good intentions.

  5. Scott A. Surovell Avatar
    Scott A. Surovell

    We tried A-F grades under Governor McDonnell and it was repealed by a Republican controlled legislature one year later. Jackson Miller led the charge.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      The issue of how to put a label on it is easy compared to what the actual actions the state will take.

      Most Schools are basically in the charge of the Principal. How and why a change might be made by the School Administration is usually not well disclosed – unless there is a scandal or such.

      How VDOE would take over responsibility for a given school, and what they would do would have to be a defined process and VDOE would then be on the hook to demonstrate what they did – accomplished something concrete – like get that school back to a full accreditation status.

      Mr. Youngin and his VDOE folks are probably going to mull this issue over at length I suspect. Lots of potential for less than wonderful stuff ….. if not done “right”.

Leave a Reply