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.
As a parent whose special needs child attended public school in Virginia for over 22 years, it is very imporatant that our standards for high school graduation not be allowed to suffer because graduation rates. Even though I have never agreed with the SOL or No Child Left Behind programs - I do believe that we need to have high expectations for any student holding a High School Diploma from any and all schools in Virginia. Targets only allow teachers and administrators to water down the curricula in order to get the numbers that you demand in order to "prove" or justify that they have been successful rather than allowing teachers to teach the student from where that student actually is instead of where you say that student should be. Maybe then we can actually start "educating" our students instead of shuffling them through on the "assembly line" system that we currently have. We know what works, we simply don't do it. If every woman of child-bearing age was to conceive tonight, they would not all give birth at the same time, have the same gender of child, or have children with the same abilities. These children would not begin to walk, talk or understand on the same day. Yet, here in America we expect them all to learn the same things, at the same rate, with the same results between the ages of 4 to 18 years! Wrong, we need to set high expectations and then allow our teachers to teach each child based on that child's ability no matter what the age!!!!! Maybe then they will all learn to read but at least we will know that the diploma they have earned means that they are truly educated and deserving.
Please increase the target for the graduation index 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.
Virginia’s students need to receive appropriate supports to reach their potentials, and schools and the Commonwealth as a whole will benefit from incentives to provide the needed supports.
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.
Geraldine W. Woodley
Lawrenceville, VA 23868
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