On May 23, 2020, Governor Northam declared, “Today I’m directing all schools in Virginia to remain closed at least through the end of this academic year. School closures are necessary to minimize the spread at which COVID-19 spread and protect the capacity of our health system. I know this raises a lot of questions for parents and also for our students.”
This unprecedented action produced an array of questions, emotions, and doubts? How will students who depend on school meals survive? How will this affect the economy and our school budgets? How will we deliver instruction? What is our obligation to implement IEP goals? How do we support students without access to computers, Chromebooks or WIFI? Will there be SOL testing? Can we hold graduations for high school seniors? What will be our promotion criteria? Will teachers be required to include uncovered material in the next sequential course (e.g., Algebra I – Algebra II, Spanish 1 – Spanish II)? Will there be summer school? Most if not all of these questions have been answered.
The new question Virginia’s superintendents and educators are faced with now are: “How will we overcome the digital divide to provide equity and quality instruction in a virtual and hybrid model? Do we begin the school year with a virtual, face-to-face or hybrid instructional model? What should the model look like? And does our community have broadband capacity to support any of these models?
No issue is more urgent in public education than achieving and ensuring equity in student learning throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Equity is a multifaceted issue that reflects variability in both geographic location and student demographics across the Commonwealth as well as per pupil expenditures and students’ access to the full range of instructional content and programs essential to success after graduation, regardless of where a student lives. As leaders of public education, we must take a comprehensive approach to achieving and ensuring an equitable education for all students in Virginia so that race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, special education status, learning ability level, family circumstances, culture, and gender identity are no longer predictors of success. The Commonwealth can achieve these systemic improvements by ensuring that all students have what they need, exactly when they need it, to be successful in school. In order to accomplish this, we must be deliberate in providing the appropriate supports, removing barriers, creating needed learning environments, closing current gaps in opportunity, and changing the current level of educational funding that will ensure equitable opportunities for all students.
Dr. Melody D. Hackney, Superintendent of Hopewell City Schools, was named Virginia’s Superintendent of the Year during the virtual Ceremony to Celebrate Virginia’s Superintendents held today by the Virginia Association of School Superintendents. She was selected from among eight regional finalists by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Presidents of the Virginia Board of Education, the Virginia Education Association, the Virginia Parent and Teacher Association, the Virginia School Boards Association, the Virginia Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals, the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals, and the Virginia Association of School Superintendents.
On July 11, 2020, VASS launched its first Virginia Superintendents Leadership Academy (VSLA) Conference. It was a terrific success! Participants included Cohort I superintendents, executive coaches, sponsors, and VASS staff. The vision for the Academy began approximately two years ago when Executive Director, Ben Kiser and Associate Director, Andy Stamp initiated conversations with representatives from the Virginia Department of Education, universities, and professional development organizations among others, to create a professional learning community for Virginia superintendents. The focus of the conference was the Profile of a Virginia Leader, facilitated by Dr. Peter Gorman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Peter Gorman Leadership Associates LLC, and former superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Schools.
As educators consider a blended or hybrid learning model to start the 2020–21 school year, teachers need tools to effectively deliver instruction to students inside and outside the classroom. With VIEWpath Blend, teachers can record video content to share with students through a Learning Management System (LMS) or download to distribute to students without internet service.
Worried how your team will maintain continuity of learning as you pivot among educational settings in the coming school year? Lexia’s evidence-based, research-proven programs are helping over 4 million students around the world (including over 60,000 in Virginia) continue their literacy development during these uncertain times.
When students return to school, educators will have to quickly assess skill gaps. Accurate, continuous assessments, administered from home or school, will be more essential than ever. Plus, reliable data will be the bridge to support educators and offer insight for differentiating instruction. Join this live webinar for school leaders featuring educational author/researcher and international reading expert Joseph Torgesen, PhD, Istation President and Chief Operating Officer Ossa Fisher, and Istation's educational consultant Dr. Karen Ingram from Istation.
Looking for a unique way to virtually engage staff, foster collaboration and spark some fun, friendly competition? VASS Senior Partner, Horace Mann has just the thing. Their Back in the Game virtual trivia tournament is a great way to get re-energized and geared up for back-to-school season! Here’s how it’ll work:
My 10th grade daughter has had a great experience through @EdgenuityInc program @ACPSk12 - outstanding solution for #distancelearning! I would love to see expansion of this program for middle school this next year & throughout the state! @VirginiaPTA @DonnaCbo1964 @VASecofEdu— Rebecca Tiffany (@rebeccajtiffany) June 12, 2020
There’s a lot to consider as educators plan to reopen schools in the fall. How can you satisfy CDC and local guidelines while supporting students and teachers? What options exist for addressing learning loss? How easily can you pivot between in-person and online instruction? With more time to plan, thinking through these different scenarios and anticipating various challenges can help.
According to a USA Today/Ipsos poll conducted in late May, 20% of teachers anticipate not returning to the school building, and 60% of parents of K–12 students plan to pursue online learning options instead of sending their kids back to school. These numbers indicate the importance of developing reopening plans that are adaptable and incorporate virtual instruction.
EF Education First has partnered with Southern New Hampshire University over the past years to provide professional development opportunities for educators. This year, EF is proud to provide 500 scholarships for teachers across the United States in an exploratory course on distance learning. EF and SNHU recognize the past several months have been the truest form of professional development. In this course, students reflect upon their efforts to support students and their school during the COVID-19 crisis. Emphasis is placed on the ways in which teachers transformed their curriculum, pedagogy, instruction, and collaboration with one another to ensure the continued delivery of K12 education.
VASS Associate Partner Rethink Ed’s new Rethink Ed Equity and Inclusion Track for Adults & Students is a digital, K-12, evidence-based SEL program that can be implemented in both online and in-classroom learning environments. Social Emotional Learning provides the necessary tools for interrupting systemic inequity in our schools by building strong, respectful relationships founded on an appreciation of similarities and differences. This curriculum teaches you how to critically examine the root causes of inequity and develop collaborative solutions that create the inclusive school environments that are key to ensuring educational equity for all students.
There have been many studies done and books written on what it means to be a good leader; however, few to none took into account the current circumstances. In the face of such high levels of uncertainty, anxiety, inequity, and angst, it is understandable that many leaders believe they need to create a whole new playbook. In most cases, though, the opposite is true. Now more than ever, leadership should rely on what research and practice have shown to work. More specifically, leaders need to consider frameworks, goals, and mission statements that were in place pre-COVID-19 to determine which elements still work and which need modification. After all, effective leadership traits focused on student success inform the familiar frameworks that ensure equitable instruction for all students. These frameworks drive the contingencies (continue, adapt, preserve, monitor) that facilitate continuity of learning in unfamiliar circumstances.
The power of data…Goochland County Public Schools, a high-performing district just outside of Richmond, is prioritizing growth over achievement to address equity gaps. And it’s working.
Goochland County is nestled just outside of Richmond,Virginia. With bucolic landscapes up close and the BlueRidge Mountains oﬀ in the distance, this farming community oﬀers small-town living and easy access to the city. “It’s the best of both worlds,” says Sean Campbell, coordinator of student data for Goochland County Public Schools.
With schools out, businesses closed, and many working from their living rooms, leaders across the country have quickly found ways to adapt to the new virtual environment. Change was forced during this unexpected pandemic, and for many leaders, this is the first time you’ve experienced a crisis like the one we’re in. While savvy managers understand how to motivate and unite teams outside of a national disaster, leading during turbulent times presents new and unchartered challenges. You’ve heard the saying “As goes the leader, so goes the organization.” Because everything rises and falls on leadership, what must leaders do to keep people engaged and motivated during this pandemic?
Equitable, engaging, and proven successful, Achieve3000 Math offers a powerful experience to support math fluency and skills mastery. Similar to Achieve3000 Literacy, the solution delivers differentiated practice and intervention that closes knowledge gaps and builds confidence for all students, grades K to 12.
Click on the LINK BELOW to access VA DOE Coronavirus Information and Resources, communication and recommendations from VASS, and VASS Business Partner Resources to assist educators.
VASS worked with Strategic Value Media to create the guide, a web portal to a large network of vendors that supply goods and services to educators. The guide, which highlights companies that are VASS Business Members, is designed to help school division leaders make efficient and fully informed purchasing decisions.