Governor Bob McDonnell has taken executive action on the groundbreaking "ALL STUDENTS" K-12 reform bills passed by the General Assembly during the 2013 session. Governor McDonnell signed legislation aimed at ensuring all students in Virginia have the best opportunity to learn and that students, regardless of their zip code, receive a world-class education.
Speaking about his "ALL STUDENTS" initiatives, Governor McDonnell said, "This year's K-12 reform agenda included bold legislation to empower Virginia's excellent teachers, embed innovation and accountability in the classroom, and provide public school options for our students. Our common-sense, results-oriented and student-focused reforms are important steps forward for students, teachers and parents. The legislation signed to date acknowledges that a teacher can make all the difference in the life of a young person and therefore we must work to recruit, incentivize, retain and reward excellent teachers and treat them like the professionals that they are. This package will also provide local administrators the tools to offer incentives to teachers who excel in the classroom, and lay the ground work for school divisions to reward high-performing educators who go above and beyond the call of duty. These initiatives ensure that every child, regardless of ZIP code, graduates college- or career-ready by empowering excellent teachers, encouraging innovation and accountability, and increasing public school options."
Governor McDonnell signed the following pieces of legislation:
Empower Excellent Teachers:
HB2151 (Bell, R.P.) / SB1223 (Norment): Educator Fairness Act. Makes several fundamental changes to the processes by which teachers and certain administrators are hired, evaluated, and terminated, and streamlines the grievance process and permits a clear removal process for a teacher who has one failing evaluation. This major reform ensures that underperforming teachers are not tolerated, and that a longer probation period is put in place.
HB2083 (Cox) / SB1185 (Vogel): Strategic Compensation Fund. Creates a fund to award competitive grants to school divisions for the design and implementation of a supplemental compensation program for teachers that provide incentives that are tailored to each participating school division's strategic goals and objectives. The grants would allow school divisions to award incentive payments to effective teachers who meet the school division's strategic compensation criteria, or to reward effective teacher leaders assuming additional responsibilities or priority assignments. For example, the grants could reward teachers who help students make significant academic progress; reward teacher leaders assuming additional responsibilities, such serving as teacher mentors; pay incentives to effective teachers with needed expertise willing to transfer to hard-to-staff or low-performing schools; or reward effective teachers who are assigned to teach critical shortage areas, such as mathematics and special education.
Innovation and Accountability:
HB1999 (Greason) / SB1207 (Stanley): A-F School Report Cards. Creates a pathway for the DOE to report individual school performance using a grading system in addition to the standards of accreditation. Simplifies the current school accountability system to an easy to understand A-F grading system. This school grading system will help parents to fully understand the performance of their child's school. The A-F report cards will make school performance clear and easily communicated to the public. The new A-F grading system will update the current system that is often too convoluted to understand. The new report cards will recognize schools for challenging all students to reach high levels of achievement. They will also give schools a tool to encourage more parental and community involvement. When parents and community members have a clear understanding of school performance, all students benefit.
HB2084 (K. Cox) / SB1175 (Ruff): Teach for America Act. A significant achievement gap still exists between our students. While the task will not be easy, TFA has been successful in working with schools to close the achievement gap. Teach for America recruits and trains the best and brightest recent college graduates from across the country to accept full-time teaching assignments in hard-to-staff schools. This legislation will allow for TFA to operate in Virginia and begin placing teachers in hard-to-staff schools starting in the 2013-2014 academic year.
HB2098 (Tata) / SB1189 (Martin): Red Tape Reduction Act. This legislation strengthens the ability of school divisions to request waivers from the State Board of Education from certain state requirements. Local school divisions may be released from Board of Education-approved regulations and standards of quality requirements.
HB2066 (Peace) / SB1172 (Blevins): Additional Staffing and SOQ Flexibility for Local School Divisions. Currently, the Standards of Quality legislation prescribes the number of librarians, school counselors and school-based clerical staff required for each school. This legislation provides flexibility for school divisions to assign staff to schools with particular needs and areas of focus, rather than blanket mandates.
HB2144 (Landes): Reading is Fundamental Act. Reading proficiency by third grade is an important predictor of high school graduation and career success. Governor McDonnell's legislation will improve reading achievement for students reading below grade level by creating additional instructional time for reading specialists to work with them. The additional time will be granted through SOL testing waivers. Allows waivers from third grade standards of learning assessments for schools testing below 75 percent on the SOL assessment.
HB2068 (LeMunyon) / SB1171 (Blevins): Algebra Readiness Initiative. Success in algebra is a key indicator success in STEM-H disciplines; Governor McDonnell supports legislation to embed Algebra Readiness and the Early Intervention Reading Initiative in the Standards of Quality. This bill adds kindergarten and grades one and two to the requirement that local school divisions provide early intervention services to students in grade three who demonstrate deficiencies based on their individual performance on diagnostic reading tests.
Public School Options:
HB2076 (Stolle) / SB1131 (McWaters): Local Approval of Public Charter Schools. This legislation to eliminate the requirement that local school boards who originate a charter school application must apply for authorization from the state Board of Education. Currently, school boards who wish to start a public charter school in the Commonwealth must first submit their application to the state Board of Education. This legislation will eliminate the process of receiving state Board of Education approval in addition to the consent of the local school board. Several Virginia localities are interested in establishing public charter schools, however, the best providers in the country have policies that conflict with multiple approval requirements for expansion.
SB1324 (McDougle): Opportunity Educational Institution (OEI). Governor McDonnell is amending SB1324 to further clarify and strengthen this groundbreaking legislation that will ensure child in every ZIP code will receive a quality education, and rescue those attending a chronically failing school. Governor McDonnell is touring Petersburg's Peabody Middle School on Monday, March 25th to visit with school leaders, teachers and students. The governor will announce actions on SB1324 on Monday, March 25 2013.