The Virginia Department of Education has released its annual accreditation ratings. The good news, 40.9% of schools in Richmond Public Schools are accredited. The other news is that 40.3% are NOT. If those schools reflect the number of students in the Richmond this means that approximately 10,000 students are not receiving the basic level of education mandated by the state.
What do Chesterfield County Public Schools have that we (Richmond Public Schools) don’t? Once, when a 7th grade, African American, Richmond Public Schools student was asked this question she hesitated a bit and said, “Well, to be honest, they have more white kids in the classes. That’s why they do better.” These thoughts and feelings aren’t unique. Nationally, families of color feel teachers don’t try as hard when there are fewer white students in the classroom.
To solve this problem, some parents with goals for their children move as far into Chesterfield or Henrico County as their money will allow to get a better education. Others who cannot afford to move to the surrounding counties, use a relative’s address to ensure their child is getting the best public education possible. Many families are even willing to have their child placed back a grade when moving to the county to make up for the missing learning in Richmond Public Schools.
So what is the difference? I know what you’re thinking…must be the money. Not exactly. According to the Chesterfield Observer quoting the Virginia State Department of Education, Richmond Public Schools spends $4000 more per student each year than Chesterfield County. In some cases, students who were unable to get a quality education in Richmond somehow manage to learn and thrive when they relocate to Chesterfield.
Well, if its not finance, what is it? Over the next year, through engagement on social media, Taughtology will ask different variations of this question to get to the heart of the matter. Please feel free to share your thoughts on our polls. Help us make Richmond Public Schools a stronger choice for families. As you share with us, we share with people who have the power to change it.
What is the best indicator of whether or not students will be successful this year? As with anything, often the best indicator of future success is past success or learning from past failures. In an effort to highlight some of the most successful teachers in RPS, Taughtology requested a list of teacher performance data based on SOLs for reading and math in July of 2017. We still don’t have it.
We believed that if we could acknowledge great teachers and share their practices with the rest of the city, we would be able to increase student success. We were not prepared for what we ultimately learned.
Richmond Public Schools informed us that it does not have this information in an easily accessible format. RPS indicated that it would have to have some poor soul print some pdfs and then black out information by hand. RPS also indicated that anyone requesting that information would have to pay 400-800 dollars. RPS not having this information at the ready means a few things.
First, students are pressured to take SOLs every year that mean little to the instructional process because no one is looking at it. Students are promoted despite failure, teachers are retained despite failure and every other system in RPS operates independent of student performance data by teacher.
Second, there are departments and positions in RPS, tasked with assessment, accountability and professional development, that don’t have a centralized record of this information. How are these departments creating goals and moving toward an improved system?
Finally, it means that we have a clear starting point from which to build future instructional improvement efforts. We could start actually using the SOL scores, which stress students and teachers, every year to drive a quality education.
You can help make the SOL mean something by ensuring success is repeated and failures are analyzed to help students learn.
- Teachers– If you were not successful last year, ask for a development plan.
- Families– Ask the principal for your child’s SOL scores for every school year AND ask for your child’s teacher’s SOL pass rate was last year to develop an intervention plan for your child
- Community– Send a letter to your local elected officials demanding the free publication and accessibility of this information to the public.