by Charles Pyle
Last month, we examined two items on the agendas for the Board of Education’s January 24-25 meetings that seemed to fly in the face of Governor Glenn Youngkin’s 2021 campaign promises to raise expectations for students and schools and increase transparency in how the commonwealth reports on the performance of both.
Under one of Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Coons’ proposals — which was abruptly removed from the agenda of the board’s January 25 business meeting — students would no longer fail Standards of Learning tests in reading and math. Rather, students who failed to meet the proficiency benchmarks would be reported as performing at the “basic” or “below basic” levels.
As pointed out in last month’s article, while these descriptors mirror those on the national reading and math tests, the potential for confusion would be high given that Virginia sets the proficiency bar on its reading and math SOL tests much lower than the benchmarks students must meet on the national tests, known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
Youngkin expressed his concerns about Virginia’s low expectations on the campaign trail in 2021, and vowed in his May 2022 report “Our Commitment to Virginians: High Expectations and Excellence for All Students” to raise the commonwealth’s expectations for students to equal the rigor of the national benchmarks. The governor’s report noted that while other states raised standards during recent years, Virginia’s expectations relative to national standards had slipped to the lowest in the nation.
But a recent but little-noticed National Center for Education Statistics study confirms that this is still the case, despite the governor’s promise to raise expectations. Continue reading