WATCH: Gov. Youngkin discusses VDOE report on public school performance

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A new report is raising red flags about Virginia's education system | We break down what Gov. Youngkin wants to do to solve the problems

Governor Glenn Youngkin spoke at the Virginia Department of Education’s unveiling of their report on Thursday at about 11 a.m.

In the report, VDOE examined achievement gaps, student struggles and extensive learning loss. The Superintendent presented the findings and how educators can better serve Virginia’s students and close the achievement gap.

Key findings in the report include the following, according to Youngkin’s office:

  • Virginia now has the lowest proficiency standards in reading and math in the nation
  • In 2020, the Board of Education voted to lower proficiency standards on SOL reading tests from elementary school to high school
  • Pre-pandemic results from college entrance exams taken by Virginia high school graduates in 2019 show disparities in college readiness, particularly in math
  • Last fall, 42% of second graders in the Commonwealth scored below the benchmark on the state’s early literacy screening

“I want to stress that this report is not an indictment of our teachers, principals, and other school leaders. They have worked tirelessly over the last few years under extraordinary conditions and circumstances,” said superintendent Jillian Balow.

The report went on to identify Youngkin’s guiding principles in education:

  • Establish and maintain high expectations for students, schools, and ourselves.
  • Advance parent and teacher empowerment to best serve students in partnership.
  • Demand zero-tolerance for discrimination in education and beyond.
  • Foster innovation in all education environments.
  • Provide transparency and accountability so that each child is seen and receives what they need to succeed.
  • Ensure post-secondary readiness so that all learners can succeed in life.
  • Protect and nurture freedom of speech and inquiry to ensure every student is taught how to think, not what to think.

You can read the response from the Virginia Education Association below:

The Youngkin administration’s plan for Virginia’s 1.2 million public school students is now crystal clear: They will accept nothing short of privatizing our entire public education system in the name of “school choice,” and they are willing to say and do almost anything to make it happen.

This “report” does little to advance its stated goal, but goes to great lengths to disrespect and belittle the amazing work Virginia educators have done, and continue to do, under incredibly difficult circumstances. By ignoring the solid educational achievements made by Virginia students over the past several years while promoting politically convenient terms like “honesty gap,” this report only serves to further the Governor’s political agenda while failing to address any of the real needs in the Commonwealth’s classrooms.

For all the talk of leading with data, the report displays a shocking lack of commitment to best practices when it comes to analysis – using anomaly years to assert trends, highlighting analysis from more than seven years ago when current data is available, and ignoring critical variables like years when our state test standards and formats changed. The report barely mentions our most worrying achievement gap trends, such as those for English Language Learners.

Through blatant manipulation of data and failing to uplift the most obvious achievement gap challenges in Virginia, it’s clear the real intent of the report is political in nature.

If Governor Youngkin is concerned about an “honesty gap,” he need look no further than his own office to find it.

James Fedderman, VEA president

10 News reached out to our local school districts.

Some tell us they are still looking over the report.

Roanoke City school leaders tell 10 News they created an initiative earlier this year called, “The Roadmap to Student Success.”

The district released the following statement to 10 News:

Roanoke City Public Schools is proud of our accomplishments to date, as well as the efforts set forth in “The Roadmap to Student Success.” We believe that our program is in alignment with Governor Youngkin’s plan.

Claire Mitzel, Communications & Public Relations with Roanoke City Public Schools

Are you an educator, student or parent? Maybe just a concerned citizen? We want to hear your thoughts: