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Critics say education report paints inaccurate picture of Virginia schools

Virginia Dept. of Education

A recent report from the state's top education officials says Virginia took a wrong turn back in 2017 when the previous administration put a new focus on student growth, which they say took away the focus on meeting expectations.

"I think they're just trying to confuse the public. Why can't we simultaneously meet expectations and look at growth?" asks Atif Qarni.

Qarni was state education secretary in 2017. "Human beings grow at different levels, so growth is a fundamental aspect of where a child starts at the beginning of the academic year and how they finish up at the end of the academic year. That's just a more responsible way to assess a student throughout the academic year."

Critics say the report cherry picked numbers to paint a grim and misleading portrait of Virginia schools. Chad Stewart is a policy analyst at the Virginia Education Association. "It's to make people believe that our schools are failing in the state of Virginia so that they will want school choice and privatization efforts," Stewart says. "So it's hard not to see this report that clearly has a lot of methodological issues to it and very questionable data analysis as anything but politically motivated."

Moving forward, Governor Glenn Youngkin says one of his objectives is to give raises to teachers. That's actually a sticking point in the ongoing debate over the budget. The House wants to fund a 4 percent raise for teachers while the Senate is pushing for a 5 percent raise.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Updated: May 20, 2022 at 4:42 PM EDT
Editor's Note: The Virginia Education Association is a financial supporter of Radio IQ.
Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.
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