I am a Virginia resident and a strong supporter of our public schools. I appreciate the Board's efforts to make graduation rates a priority for Virginia high schools, but given the importance of producing graduates ready for college, work, and life, I'm writing to ask that you take a stronger stand.
I have worked for 12 years with parents of young children, most recently as a parent-infant educator at the Arc of the Piedmont. The vast majority of the parents I work with were high school drop outs and as a result face a multitude of difficulties finding employment and raising their children.
Please increase the target to at least 90 points, OR adjust the graduation and completion index so that it gives schools more points for Standard and Advanced Diplomas and fewer points for all alternative diplomas and other credentials. I am especially concerned about the points awarded to certificates of program completion. There is no evidence that they provide any benefit to students.
I'd like to ask that you ensure the new standards provide:
Dropout prevention: Schools should be rewarded for keeping students engaged in school.
Diplomas: The current proposal gives full credit for credentials that don't offer full opportunities. Schools deserve credit for making sure all students complete school, but GEDs, Certificates of Program Completion, Special Diplomas and Modified Standard Diplomas aren't as highly valued in the worlds of work and continuing education. In order to create incentives for early planning and high expectations, only the Standard and Advanced Diplomas should get full credit; other options should be weighted according to their value to the student after high school.
Disaggregation: Graduation rates must be increased for all of Virginia's most vulnerable students, including economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities or who have limited English proficiency, and minority students. Disaggregating graduation data about Virginia's most vulnerable students is key to ensuring success for all.
Thank you for your consideration. I hope you'll do all that you can to increase the number of students who successfully graduate ready to fulfill their greatest potential.