Virginia Beach Schools Ignore One of Nation’s Best Records in Equity to Force Through New “Educational Equity Policy”

by James C. Sherlock

You know how people sometimes fail to tell the truth when the truth matters, but you don’t know whether they are lying by omission or are simply ignorant? This is one of those times.

In this case, the Superintendent of Virginia Beach Schools will need to provide the answer.  

This summer he presented to the School Board a new “Educational Equity Policy,” which it approved in September. The policy decries the inequitable achievement outcomes for races in Virginia Beach schools and appoints a Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (of course) to correct them. Fair enough if true, but it is not.

The superintendent failed to mention, and eight of eleven members of the school board failed to notice, that, according to state records, Black and Hispanic students in Virginia Beach Schools tested proficient in some of the five subjects tested statewide as often and in some cases more often than white students in Virginia Beach in both 2017-2018 and 2018 – 2019 school years.

Not only that, but all three racial categories of Virginia Beach students showed remarkable progress in subject matter proficiency across the board between 2017-18 and 2018-19.  See Pass-Proficient-Rates-Virginia-Beach-Schools-2017-18 and 18-2019.

Finally, Virginia Beach students — white, black and Hispanic — easily and in some cases massively surpassed the proficiency demonstrated in standardized tests in five subjects by their peers in Richmond and Fairfax County.

So why did Virginia Beach pass a shiny new Educational Equity policy that trashes current teachers and demands their re-training? 

The school board, including the eight of eleven members who voted for it, will have to ask the superintendent. And issue a public apology to its teachers. And disband the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee that brought the policy forward. 

I was pointed to these results by a remarkable study called “The Secret Shame — How America’s Most Progressive Cities Betray their Commitment to Educational Opportunity for All” — published in January of this year by Brightbeam.  I confirmed the accuracy of that reports’ figures for Virginia Beach Schools on the state Department of Education website.

From the introduction:

Students in America’s most progressive cities face greater racial inequity in achievement and graduation rates than students living in the nation’s most conservative cities. 

Progressive Cities Have Larger Achievement Gaps Than Conservative Cities 

We selected the 12 most conservative cities and the 12 least conservative cities from (prior research) to establish the conservative and progressive cities that make up the base of this report. 

• Progressive cities, on average, have achievement gaps in math and reading that are 15 and 13 percentage points higher than in conservative cities, respectively. 

• In San Francisco, for example, 70% of white students are proficient in math, compared to only 12% of black students reaching proficiency — a 58-point gap. 

• In Washington, D.C., 83% of white students scored proficient in reading compared to 23 percent of black students — a 60-point gap. 

• In contrast, three of the 12 most conservative cities — Virginia Beach, Anaheim and Fort Worth — have effectively closed or even erased the gap in at least one of the academic categories we examined.

Specific comments in the report about Virginia Beach’s outstanding results (2017-18 results were used for this study):

“Virginia Beach, Virginia, has the lowest achievement gaps among the 12 most conservative cities. The black-white gap in math proficiency is only 3 percentage points and the gap in reading proficiency is a miniscule 1 percentage point. The Latino-white proficiency rate gaps in Virginia Beach actually favor Latino students by 2 percentage points in both math and reading. “ (Pg. 19)

“Virginia Beach, which stands out for its admirably low achievement gaps, graduates high school students at the highest rate in the study, at 93%, but with a black-white gap of 5 percentage points and a Latino-white gap of 2 points. “ (Pg. 20)

“Arguably, Virginia Beach is an outlier case among conservative districts in more ways than its admirably low racial education gaps. Military families compose a substantial part of the population of this port city. With many white, black and Latino children hailing from a shared background of having military parents, it could be that Virginia Beach is better situated to eliminate achievement and graduation rate gaps by race than other conservative cities. Excluding the outlier of Virginia Beach from the set of the 12 most conservative cities, the average black-white proficiency rate gap in math for the remaining 11 conservative districts is 28 percentage points, with a reading gap of 29 percentage points and a graduation rate gap of 4 percentage points. The comparable average Latino-white gaps for conservative cities, excluding Virginia Beach, are 21 percentage points in math, 24 points in reading, and 5 points in high school graduation.” (Pg. 22)

To show that 2017-18 was not a one-year outlier, I downloaded the results for 2018-19 (see link above). They are even better.  

Not only did all Virginia Beach students make statistically significant improvements in tested proficiency from the previous year, but Hispanic students outperformed white students in English:Reading, English:Writing and Mathematics.  

Black students made an astounding 13-point leap in mathematics proficiency in that one year. The Black-White gap in 2018-19 was only significant (7 points) in science. That is in contrast to gaps of 60% and higher in some cities.

One last spreadsheet: The on-time graduation rates for 2018 and 2019 for Virginia Beach, Fairfax County and Richmond City. 2018 and 2019 4-Year Graduation Rates Virginia Beach, Fairfax and Richmond City

So, the new policy

“Requires mandatory training for all School Board Members and staff regarding: implicit bias and how it produces inequitable practices and outcomes”

That should take no time at all.  

The apology to Virginia Beach’s teachers needs to take longer – I suggest the School District take out a full page ad in the Virginian Pilot.

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15 responses to “Virginia Beach Schools Ignore One of Nation’s Best Records in Equity to Force Through New “Educational Equity Policy””

  1. One morning upon arriving at his office, Joseph Stalin could not find his favorite pipe. He looked in his study, where he had last smoked it. It was not there. He searched his desktop and all the tables and chairs in his office. No luck.

    Finally, he called his chief of security Lavrentiy Beria into his office and announced that his pipe was missing and that is must be found. Beria passed the word to the rest of Stalin’s staff that they and their subordinates must stop everything else they are doing and search for Stalin’s missing pipe.

    Later that day, Stalin found the pipe in one of his desk drawers – he had inadvertently covered it up with some paperwork. He called Lavrentiy Beria back into his office and told him of his mistake. “But sir”, Beria responded, “five men have already confessed to stealing your pipe and been executed”.

  2. First point: It is extremely heartening to see a school system where there is no meaningful performance gap between blacks, whites and Hispanics. The achievement gap is not preordained. The Virginia Beach model may or may not be replicable — the large military population, as you suggest, probably has a lot to do with the results — but it should be studied widely.

    Second point: If progressives can’t find inequity, their policies are sure to create it. Their doctrines are poisonous. Implementation of Critical Race Theory could well create an achievement gap where none existed before.

    1. sherlockj Avatar

      Minor point – It was the 3rd party study that brought up the military population point. I am not sure, nor are they, that in this case correlation equals causation.

      I have to give the credit to the teachers.

      I wish VB Public Schools had stopped their headlong race to critical race theory and anti-racist policies to do so.

      As I wrote in forwarding my essay to the School Board and the Superintendent info the City Council, VB schools owes its teachers a public apology.

  3. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead V

    Virginia Beach did a good job with Math. They found creative ways to ensure remedial programs for all students during regular school time. I remember our Math Department chair at Briar Woods was able to borrow from VA Beach and bring that winning formula to our school. Paid big dividends. I think Mr. Bacon is write in his comment. CRT will create division points that fight against a unified school approach to tackling achievement gaps. If the policy wonks and politicians would step aside skilled and able teachers could move the ball downfield for the next first down.

    1. sherlockj Avatar

      I personally conducted both in-class (separate table in the corner) and in-library (lunchtime) remedial math instruction in a Virginia Beach elementary school for several years as a volunteer. It was very successful. That is one reason I am so pissed off at the Superintendent and School Board.

      It is an example of reason going out the window when threatened with the demands of race warriors. They should be ashamed of themselves and apologize. We’ll see what happens.

      1. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
        James Wyatt Whitehead V

        Engaging students the way you did is a key element. Most of the time this kind of instruction can lift the “fog” many students are lost in during a larger setting. Plus you get a chance to form a one on one bond with the student. That emotional element is so key. It lifts fear and raises confidence.

        1. sherlockj Avatar

          I usually had six or eight at a time, but it was like a boot camp. Singular focus. No distractions. In each of those years I taught 5th graders to multiply. As you know, they were scheduled to learn that in the 3rd grade. They had no idea what was going on in regular math class, so they were motivated. It worked.

  4. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    “So why did Virginia Beach pass a shiny new Educational Equity policy that trashes current teachers and demands their re-training?”

    The Answer to J. Sherlock’s question is four fold.

    1. Virginia’s liberal progressive leaders deplore (hate) the white lower and middle class in Virginia, because they are not reliable Democratic Party voters,

    2/ Virginia’s liberal progressive Democratic leaders desperately need ever more black and Latino voters to maintain their strangle hold grip on power in Virginia.

    3/ As result of 1/ and 2/ above, Virginia’s liberal progressive Democratic leaders demonize white lower and middle class in Virginia, viciously and falsely charging them with “systemic racism” and falsely promising to fix the bogus systemic racism of lower and middle class white people with flavors and preferences handed out to “minorities of color, by the liberal progressive and most white elites, who do this solely to maintain their own power and de-facto privilege, by keeping everyone else on the plantation. This is called divide and conquer by wedge politics that uses hate to pit groups against one another, thereby keeping the white elite liberals in power.

    4/ Another reason for the earlier success of Virginia Beach schools is the military ethos, ethics, and culture of the population, representing traditions such as duty, honor, country, and family.

  5. LarrytheG Avatar

    I went to VDOE build-a-table for Va Beach and I got the following for Reading for each school for blacks and whites:

    School Name Race Pass Rate
    Alanton Elementary Black 73.53
    Alanton Elementary White 96.93
    Arrowhead Elementary Black 76.19
    Arrowhead Elementary White 92.16
    Bayside 6th Grade Campus Black 67.52
    Bayside 6th Grade Campus White 89.55
    Bayside Elementary Black 67.5
    Bayside Elementary White 78.87
    Bayside High Black 72.31
    Bayside High White 87.96
    Bayside Middle Black 64.14
    Bayside Middle White 85.71
    Birdneck Elementary Black 55.41
    Birdneck Elementary White 87.5
    Brandon Middle Black 75.59
    Brandon Middle White 88.28
    Brookwood Elementary Black 71.08
    Brookwood Elementary White 86.29
    Centerville Elementary Black 81.82
    Centerville Elementary White 85.26
    Christopher Farms Elementary Black 82.5
    Christopher Farms Elementary White 87.79
    College Park Elementary Black 75
    College Park Elementary White 88
    Corporate Landing Elementary Black 66.67
    Corporate Landing Elementary White 88.76
    Corporate Landing Middle Black 74.09
    Corporate Landing Middle White 85.55
    Creeds Elementary Black >50
    Creeds Elementary White 91.45
    Fairfield Elementary Black 71.43
    Fairfield Elementary White 83.33
    First Colonial High Black 71.01
    First Colonial High White 95.85
    Floyd Kellam High Black 83.33
    Floyd Kellam High White 96.09
    Frank W. Cox High Black 81.03
    Frank W. Cox High White 98.2
    Glenwood Elementary Black 75
    Glenwood Elementary White 94.41
    Great Neck Middle Black 76.36
    Great Neck Middle White 94.59
    Green Run Collegiate Black 100
    Green Run Collegiate White 100
    Green Run Elementary Black 73.97
    Green Run Elementary White 85.19
    Green Run High Black 74.48
    Green Run High White 90.82
    Hermitage Elementary Black 67.92
    Hermitage Elementary White 89.78
    Holland Elementary Black 76.52
    Holland Elementary White 93.55
    Independence Middle Black 74.9
    Independence Middle White 87.5
    Indian Lakes Elementary Black 77.42
    Indian Lakes Elementary White 88.1
    John B. Dey Elementary Black 93.33
    John B. Dey Elementary White 93.11
    Kempsville Elementary Black 75.76
    Kempsville Elementary White 91.11
    Kempsville High Black 88.04
    Kempsville High White 96.55
    Kempsville Meadows Elementary Black 72.13
    Kempsville Meadows Elementary White 89.36
    Kempsville Middle Black 70.45
    Kempsville Middle White 85.91
    King’s Grant Elementary Black 59.32
    King’s Grant Elementary White 83.52
    Kingston Elementary Black >50
    Kingston Elementary White 95.92
    Landstown Elementary Black 70.59
    Landstown Elementary White 85.9
    Landstown High Black 83.13
    Landstown High White 93.5
    Landstown Middle Black 73.98
    Landstown Middle White 87.61
    Larkspur Middle Black 72.34
    Larkspur Middle White 86.03
    Linkhorn Park Elementary Black 73.47
    Linkhorn Park Elementary White 95.03
    Luxford Elementary Black 65.67
    Luxford Elementary White 85
    Lynnhaven Elementary Black 67.11
    Lynnhaven Elementary White 69.39
    Lynnhaven Middle Black 64.81
    Lynnhaven Middle White 92.69
    Malibu Elementary Black 82.76
    Malibu Elementary White 85.44
    New Castle Elementary Black 77.94
    New Castle Elementary White 89.55
    Newtown Elementary Black 57.99
    Newtown Elementary White 90.91
    North Landing Elementary Black 85
    North Landing Elementary White 97.92
    Ocean Lakes Elementary Black 83.87
    Ocean Lakes Elementary White 88.62
    Ocean Lakes High Black 88.24
    Ocean Lakes High White 94
    Old Donation School Black 100
    Old Donation School White 100
    Parkway Elementary Black 65.77
    Parkway Elementary White 95.65
    Pembroke Elementary Black 83.67
    Pembroke Elementary White 84.96
    Pembroke Meadows Elementary Black 73.08
    Pembroke Meadows Elementary White 86.86
    Plaza Middle Black 72.76
    Plaza Middle White 91.42
    Point O’ View Elementary Black 68.57
    Point O’ View Elementary White 80.58
    Princess Anne Elementary Black 62.5
    Princess Anne Elementary White 90.73
    Princess Anne High Black 87.14
    Princess Anne High White 93.8
    Princess Anne Middle Black 74.07
    Princess Anne Middle White 92.72
    Providence Elementary Black 65.67
    Providence Elementary White 91.91
    Red Mill Elementary Black >50
    Red Mill Elementary White 92.72
    Rosemont Elementary Black 87.91
    Rosemont Elementary White 90.32
    Rosemont Forest Elementary Black 69.05
    Rosemont Forest Elementary White 86.4
    Salem Elementary Black 92.73
    Salem Elementary White 93.41
    Salem High Black 87.9
    Salem High White 96.05
    Salem Middle Black 74.9
    Salem Middle White 90.18
    Seatack Elementary an Achievable Dream Academy Black 59.46
    Seatack Elementary an Achievable Dream Academy White 93.75
    Shelton Park Elementary Black 89.47
    Shelton Park Elementary White 90.79
    Strawbridge Elementary Black 72.73
    Strawbridge Elementary White 91.6
    Tallwood Elementary Black 87.21
    Tallwood Elementary White 95.45
    Tallwood High Black 79.62
    Tallwood High White 95.93
    Thalia Elementary Black 76.09
    Thalia Elementary White 85.71
    Thoroughgood Elementary Black 86.36
    Thoroughgood Elementary White 89.15
    Three Oaks Elementary Black 69.23
    Three Oaks Elementary White 91.44
    Trantwood Elementary Black >50
    Trantwood Elementary White 90.4
    Virginia Beach Middle Black 65.77
    Virginia Beach Middle White 91.31
    W.T. Cooke Elementary Black 64.71
    W.T. Cooke Elementary White 95.1
    White Oaks Elementary Black 75
    White Oaks Elementary White 80.22
    Williams Elementary Black 66.49
    Williams Elementary White 91.3
    Windsor Oaks Elementary Black 81.4
    Windsor Oaks Elementary White 89.42
    Windsor Woods Elementary Black 56.25
    Windsor Woods Elementary White 88.64
    Woodstock Elementary Black 63.16
    Woodstock Elementary White 86.13

    not sure why it’s so different from Sherlocks… but it looks like there is a gap in many schools.

    I used the assessment build-a-table – selected white and blacks (not of hispanic origin)… English Reading (all grades) and then Va Beach but all schools in the Va Beach system

    1. sherlockj Avatar

      It is different because I used the pass proficient numbers for the Virginia Beach School Division, as I said in my post. You used the pass only numbers for individual schools.

      The study used pass proficient because that was the only way they could compare apples to apples given the data available from other states.

      If you consider the implications of the pass proficient numbers, the fact that Blacks, whites and Hispanics reached proficiency in all five tested subjects in Virginia Beach Schools at equal rates means the instruction is equitable.

      The fact that not all Black children took advantage of equitable instruction to pass without proficiency at the same rates as whites means there are factors at work other than the schools and certainly other than systemic racism in the schools.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        I guess I don’t understand the low scores for blacks on quite a few schools are reconcile with a higher “proficiency” overall.

        Are they sampling all the schools to get the proficiency numbers?

        I just don’t really understand the difference between the two scores.

  6. sherlockj Avatar

    Go back to VDOE’s “Build-a-Table”.

    Instead of “Pass Rate” select “Pass Proficient Rate”, a higher score judged by the Commonwealth to show proficiency in each subject, not just barely passing. Instead of “School” select “Division”, then Virginia Beach, Richmond, Fairfax County or any other Division. You will get the results I provided.

    The point remains that in Virginia Beach, white, black and Hispanic students achieved proficiency in all five subjects at the same rates. No school system with systemic racism could possibly do that. The teachers deserve an award, not forced re-education.

    Where are the teacher’s unions on this abuse of teachers? They side against teachers and with BLM and absolutely anyone titled Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Any teacher joining a union like that is masochistic.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      Okay, Thanks.

      So pass proficient should be a lower number than just pass? Doesn’t that ignore the lower scores that are no proficient?

      And if you do it school by school, there are still disparities in the scores between blacks and whites and between schools.

      In other words in SOME schools there ARE lower scores – it’s the same problem I’ve seen in other larger school districts like Henrico, Fairfax, etc and that is some schools have really good scores and others in the same system have terrible scores.

      And I guess apparently some of the very, very good schools raise the overall school system scores to make up for the lower scoring schools?

      1. sherlockj Avatar

        Yes, it ignores the lower scores that are not proficient. The point is that the school system did its job in ensuring equal proficiency among students of all races.

        That says that there is no system-wide systemic racism requiring a system-wide policy to correct. Statistics will also tell you that if one school has more whites than blacks or Hispanics test as proficient, then given the system-wide equality, there must be some schools that reverse those results.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          Even though there are significant disparities in overall scores between black and white and schools?

          Seems there are substantial numbers of blacks that score lower than white kids overall.

          Even the pass proficient scores show disparities between black and white at the school level.

          I take your point but I’m not sure it proves there are no disparities – there seem to be.

          On a spreadsheet note – it looks like may have combined some to get one spreadsheet with the different school systems, maybe?

          You are probably way more capable with spreadsheets than I.. I never had to do them in my work life so fairly incompetent at manipulating them!

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