Thursday, September 19, 2013

Opportunity Educational Institution (SB 1324)

By now, many of you reading this, have already read reports in your local news regarding the press release, sent out by the Virginia Department of Education, which confirms that roughly 41% of schools met benchmarks set forth by the Standards of Learning (SOL's), and other measureable student achievements, in the 2012-2013 school year.

In the county, roughly 1/3 of our schools did not meet the measureable objectives:
Elementary Schools: Dumfries and Featherstone
Middle Schools: Beville, Fred Lynn, Graham Park, Potomac, Ronald Reagan, and Stonewall
High Schools:  Battlefield, Brentsville, Forest Park, Freedom, Gar-Field, Hylton and Potomac

Each of these schools are now required to implement a School Improvement Plan, in an effort to improve student achievement.

Now, here's an important piece of information, that you may not find in your local news sources, regarding the press release: when schools fail to meet accreditation for two years in a row, they are at risk of being taken over by the state, through the Opportunity Educational Institution (OEI) bill. 

The Opportunity Educational Institution bill "Creates the Opportunity Educational Institution to be administered and supervised by the Opportunity Educational Institution Board and requires any school that has been denied accreditation for the previous two school years to be transferred to the Institution and remain in the Institution for five years or until the school achieves full accreditation. The bill also sets forth requirements for student attendance, staffing, and funding for the Institution."  Read the bill and it's implications, in its entirety, here.

Considering the changes on the horizon for the scoring of the SOL's, in an effort to make the assessment even more challenging, to prove our children are ready for college, the statewide assessment will leave more of our children behind, by serving as a feeder system of sorts, for OEI.

Currently, Norfolk Public Schools and the Virginia Association of School Boards intend to file a lawsuit against the constitutionality of the OEI

Learn more about the Department of Education's press release, as it relates to Prince William County Schools in this InsideNova article.

Here's an article from the Progress-Index, in Petersburg, Virginia, that focuses on their struggle with school's on the state's priority list.  Two of their schools were removed; however, two other schools were added to the list, and they have a few schools at risk of being taken over by the Opportunity Educational Institution.

As WUSA reports, Jefferson Houston Elementary, the only school at risk in Northern Virginia, the school has not met accreditation in the past 10 years, and is in danger of coming under the authority of OEI.

Reader Q&A
What are your thoughts on OEI?
Is this a good solution for our struggling schools?
How will the state implement strategies to improve a school, without paying attention to the local issues, that have an impact on student learning?
How will the financial implications of OEI, effect the communities, of the schools they could potentially, be authorized to run for five years?

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