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2512 George Mason Drive • P.O. Box 6038 Virginia Beach, Virginia 23456-0038   757.263.1000 • 757.263.1240 TDD

Superintendent's Report to the School Board
January 19, 2010

Chairman Edwards, Vice Chairman Bellitto, and members of the Board –

To begin this evening, I would like to share news announced last week by then-Governor Tim Kaine and the Board of Education.  I am pleased to note that six of our schools were among 153 Virginia public schools statewide to earn the 2010 Governor’s Award for Educational Excellence. This is the highest honor under the Virginia Index of Performance incentive program.  Congratulations to: Creeds Elementary, Kemps Landing Magnet School, Old Donation Center, Red Mill Elementary, Thoroughgood Elementary, and Trantwood Elementary. Additionally, 15 of our schools earned a Board of Education Excellence Award, and 16 schools earned a Board of Education Competence to Excellence Award. For brevity’s sake I won’t name all these schools here, but there’s a news release on our website – vbschools.com. Congratulations to the students and staff at each of these schools!

At this time I would like to address one of my favorite subjects – progress on our Compass to 2015 Strategic Plan for Student Success. Sometimes we get bogged down in the details and nuances of our work that we forget to share the “meat and potatoes” with our community. In a workshop later this evening, a co-chair from each of the five strategic objectives will give a detailed progress report to the Board on what has taken place in the first half of this first year of implementation. The entire text of that presentation will be posted on our strategic plan page on vbschools.com in the next few weeks. In the meantime, here’s a very brief overview for our parents and neighbors.

Let’s begin with our ultimate goal – that by 2015, 95 percent or more of our students will graduate having mastered the skills they need to succeed as 21st century learners, workers and citizens.

The action team for Strategic Objective 1 is concentrating on engaging students in meaningful, rigorous, work incorporating 21st century skills and technologies. As you can imagine, the first order of business has been to define what those skills are, and here are the 11 skills the team identified based on community input: critical thinking, creative/innovative thinking, problem solving, information literacy, listening, collaboration, communication, social responsibility, sustainability, interdependence and health literacy.

The Strategic Objective 2 team is hard at work developing a balanced assessment system that accurately measures mastery of those 21st century skills. The College and Workforce Readiness Assessment will be administered to randomly-selected high school seniors next month. This test assesses students’ abilities to think critically and reason analytically to solve realistic problems. Similar assessments are being developed for grades 4 and 7 and will be field tested at select schools this spring. 

The Strategic Objective 3 team is concentrating on improving academic achievement for all students and closing achievement gaps, particularly among African American males. In fact just yesterday, the Urban League of Hampton Roads honored the team that created the school division’s staff development series Candid Conversations About Race. At the organization’s annual breakfast, our team was presented with the 2010 Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Leaders Award in the area of education.  Further efforts related to this strategic objective include DAYWATCH, an academic support program for suspended students.  Members of our faith-based community have partnered with us to launch the program at four schools with plans for expansion in February.  Additionally, the school division recently hosted the third annual African-American male summit at Tallwood High School. The event grew this year to include more than 500 ninth and tenth graders from all eleven comprehensive high schools and the Renaissance Academy. Parents were also invited to participate.

Parent and community engagement and outreach are the core of Strategic Objective 4.  Another means of connecting parents is through the SchoolNet Parent Portal. This online tool provides parents and guardians access to information about their child’s grades, attendance, assignments, and standardized test scores. The final schools are going online over the next four weeks, and, by February 18th, parents of all VBCPS students will have access. Another event linked to this objective is the upcoming Parent Connection Conference on Saturday, January 30 at Landstown High School.The event will offer families informative sessions and resources on all aspects of parenting. Vbschools.com has a complete list of topics and schedule of events.

Last but not least, the Strategic Objective 5 committee is focused on developing essential leader, teacher, and staff competencies. We’re taking a good look at our professional development program to align it with our strategic plan and to ensure that teachers have the training, tools, and resources they need to teach the 21st century skills and incorporate the technologies.
In addition, my Cabinet members and principals are doing learning walks at each others’ schools, and many schools are encouraging teachers to do learning walks among their faculties as well. The goal is to encourage substantive conversations about instruction and the sharing of best practices and teaching strategies. We’re developing a video featuring learning walks for our website, so watch for it on the Compass to 2015 page in the coming weeks.

One final note: I think it’s important to share our progress on Compass to 2015 as we go along — through our website, videos, at community meetings, and in our schools. And we are always looking for feedback. When leadership and the entire community connect with what goes on in the classroom, the conversations have the potential to be transformative. And that’s where we are headed with Compass to 2015 – education that transforms our children’s lives.

Mr. Chairman, that concludes my report for the evening. However, I do have a matter at hand that would like to take a moment to address. As you are well aware, the November nor’easter cost this division two days of instruction. A plan is in place for students to make up the lost time and that remains unchanged. As you know, the employee calendar was inherently more difficult. As part of the make-up schedule for employees we had originally planned to use four hours on Saturday, April 17. Those four hours were intended to provide a dedicated block of time in which instructional planning and site-based professional development could occur in preparation for the last grading period. Other uses for that time could have included collaborative planning and meetings of professional learning communities. Unfortunately, in communicating all the complexities of the make-up schedule for the many different employee groups that message on the need for a four-hour block of time was lost. As you can surmise, I have heard from many employees who do not find the Saturday make-up convenient. Consequently, I am acting on that input and revising the schedule for those four make-up hours. Instead of a Saturday make-up, we will add an hour to the employee work schedule on the four days students are scheduled for early release. These days are January 28 and 29 and February 1 and 2. I will advise employees of this change tomorrow in an explanatory e-mail, but felt the news should be shared in this public venue as well. I thank all our stakeholders for their patience and hope that all will join me in a collective prayer that we will have no more inclement weather this year!

Last Modified on Friday, January 20, 2017