The Virginia Association of School Superintendents (VASS) acknowledges and applauds the current focus on instruction, assessment and accountability in order to strengthen public education in the Commonwealth of Virginia. School superintendents also recognize and appreciate the opportunities for public school leaders across Virginia to contribute their insight and expertise in shaping the future of students and their contributions to our democratic society.
VASS proposes a discussion around the “big ideas” in the areas of instruction, assessment and accountability. VASS’ “big ideas” are those that effectively and reasonably demonstrate students reaching standards of achievement, as well as those that demonstrate continuous progress and growth.
From the “big ideas,” initial recommendations are offered for consideration in improving Virginia’s assessment and accountability system.
In creating and developing a framework, planning with “the end in mind” is necessary. Connecting existing planning documents and creating new definitions for success of public education students must be linked and redefined. In reviewing the goals of the Virginia State Board of Education, Virginia Department of Education, Virginia Association School Superintendents’ Blueprint, federal accountability, and current research, each contributes a varied perspective to instruction, the assessment of teaching and learning, and the accountability of schools. The varied perspectives present a host of challenges for local education affiliates.
The following key points along a child’s educational continuum are offered as “essential pillars” to linking and redefining the varied perspectives into a new brand of assessment and accountability for Virginia:
Suppose a person purchases a new boat in the fall with a plan to use it during the following summer. That person needs to store the boat in the garage over the winter to avoid damage. This individual realizes there is no way the boat will fit in the garage considering the current state of the garage. It is necessary to reorganize the garage and make some decisions about what to eliminate if the boat is going to fit in the garage.
To make room for a new assessment and accountability model, and more effectively address the needs of students, their future, and ways of assessing learning, Virginia will need to implement practices that look differently from what is being done today. Virginia is faced with the challenge of removing and amending many of the current practices in order to establish new and more effective ones; for the welfare of children and their futures.