Ahead of the Curve
Superintendent's Monthly Report to the School Board
July 20, 2004

Mr. Chairman, members of the Board, citizens of our community, my report this evening includes brief highlights of some recent activities and a few accomplishments of our students and staff.

Forty students, all rising ninth graders, are designing websites and building networks during the first Summer Computer Camp being held this week at the Advanced Technology Center. The technology camp provides an educational enrichment opportunity for students to experience networking, telecommunications, robotics, and engineering.

Teachers at Lynnhaven Elementary recently participated in a day of professional development in June. Using articles contained in VBCPS’ Tapestry of Knowledge, Volume III, teachers explored ways to integrate technology into instruction. The day was organized around technology applications and activities for the classroom. The latest software and the creation of lesson plans, units, and interactive instructional strategies provided the focus for this June staff development day.

Kindergarten students and teachers at John B. Dey Elementary have created a poster that contains representations of letters of the alphabet. The project, which is supported by a grant from our education foundation, was designed to assist students with letter recogntion. The poster is being sold in an effort to fund additional creative programs at the school.

Several congratulations are in order for this evening. . .

Kudos to Brandon Middle School’s Science Bowl Academic Team of Matt Samson, Nick Garcia, T.J. Berry, and Shaun Sutherland for placing third in the National Stock Car competition in Colorado in June. The students competed against 20 other regional winners to create, build and race their car, using a novel design for the wheels. The team was sponsored by Sandy Jackson and Fran Shaneyfelt.

Congratulations to Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach for having two of her articles published by Cable in the Classroom. Sheryl wrote articles entitled “Harvard from Home” and “Keys to Quality” for the July/August editions of Access Learning, Cable’s Guide to Educational Resources.

Hats off to Nancy Davenport, Principal of Kingston Elementary, for being elected to the National Association of Elementary School Principals’ Board of Directors. She just began her 3-year term as a representative for administrators in Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC, and West Virginia.

Congratulations to Cox High for garnering the prestigious Wachovia Cup for athletic competition awarded by the Virginia High School League. This marks the seventh year (out of the 15 years the award has been presented) that Cox has been the winner, an unprecedented achievement. The Wachovia Cup will be formally presented to Cox High in the Fall at the University of Virginia’s VHSL Day football game.

Hats off to Landstown High students for outstanding performance at the Technology Student Association’s (TSA) National Competition in Nashville. The students earned first place in Computer Construction and Troubleshooting, second place in Computer Programming and Technical Research and Report Writing, and placed in the top ten in the nation in the JAG F1 competition, the Agriculture and Bio-tech competions, and the Electronic Research and Experimentation competitions. Kevin Pace is the TSA advisor for Landstown High.

Kudos to the Cisco Networking Academy at the Advanced Technology Center for recenty receiving two recognitions from Cisco Systems. Cisco Chairman of the Board of Directors, John Morgridge and Cisco Account Manager, Bob Michie presented ATC instructor John Nelson awards for “unprecedented leadership through community involvement” and for “outstanding partners in education programs”. The recogntion took place at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond on June 15th where Superintendent of Public Instruction Jo Lynne DeMary was also in attendance.

And now, finally, I would like to share with you the results of our Spring 2004 SOL tests. Before I do so, however, I feel I should first discuss some of the issues surrounding this year’s tests. As you may know, we faced many challenges this year with SOL testing. Let me enumerate some of them:

• First, the bar was raised again this year for elementary school language arts. Students in grades 3 and 5 had to attain a 75 percent passing rate, up from last year’s requirement of 70 percent.
• In addition, scores for grades 3 and 5 social studies and science had to be reported independently this year, not as a combined total as has been the case previously
• This is also the first year that the eighth-grade social studies test was changed from a cumulative test to one that was spread out over the three middle school grades – six, seven, and eight (or fifth, sixth, and seventh, as chosen by Suffolk schools), so that students took a social studies SOL test in each grade.

You may have been following the newspaper articles about several school divisions and the results some of them have reported on SOL tests this year. Particularly challenging have been the social studies tests. Needless to say, as test scores go up, there is an ever-smaller window for improvement. We in Virginia Beach schools have been particularly conscious of this, especially since we were at the 95 percent pass rate going into this year’s testing window.

When our scores came in, I must admit to feeling some measure of apprehension regarding our results, especially considering the many challenges we faced this year (which I have just explained). The Department of Accountability examined the data first to ensure we had what we needed to make a preliminary assessment, so at this juncture and even though the scores are preliminary, I feel that I owe it to the community – our schools as well as the community at large -- to share this information with all of you.

Let me remind you once again how difficult it is to show improvement under the circumstances I outlined although our teachers, principals, and other staff have worked hard to implement instructional strategies that are targeted and effective. I know also that our students take the tests seriously and are focusing on learning. And I am incredibly pleased that our community has been more than supportive.

And let me tell you…
It has paid off!!!! Once again Virginia Beach City Public Schools has cause for SOL-abration!

I am pleased, I am delighted, I am thrilled to share with you the outstanding news that after our preliminary analysis of the 2003-2004 Standards of Learning test results, we feel confident that 99 percent of our schools will earn full accreditation.

What can I say? We were incredibly proud of our previous 95 percent accreditation rating, but this news is nothing short of fantastic! Our teachers, administrators, students, and parents have done it again. Collectively, we have risen to the challenge and met it. I congratulate all of you who worked so long and diligently to ensure these results.

Now, let me add to our great SOL news. College Park and Parkway elementary schools – our two Title I schools that have been on watch status – appear to have met the requirements they needed to make Adequate Yearly Progress. As a result, they will not move into school improvement with school choice. Congratulations to them both on this terrific news.

Now, please join me in a round of applause for our truly outstanding teachers, principals, support staff, and, of course, our hard working students, on a job more than well done. You make me very proud and bring great credit to this school division and to yourselves. Thank you all.

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my report for this evening.

Last Modified on November 29, 2004
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