Agencies | Governor
Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Agency
Department of Education
 
Board
State Board of Education
 
chapter
Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia [8 VAC 20 ‑ 131]
Action 2007-2008 revisions
Stage Proposed
Comment Period Ends 11/5/2008
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9/16/08  1:22 pm
Commenter: Catherine J. Rotolo

school accreditation
 

 

Dear Members of the Board of Education:

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. 

Students who graduate from high school significantly increase their prospects for a productive, stable and successful future.  Graduation from high school is a critical indicator that students will be able to benefit from and contribute to the workforce, economy and society and this will benefit all Virginia residents.

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.

Sincerely,

Catherine J. Rotolo

1344 Stonegate Court

Crozet, VA 22932

CommentID: 2197
 

9/16/08  1:43 pm
Commenter: Advocating 4 Kids

Set Policies That Produce Results
 

September 16, 2008

 
Dear Members of the Board of Education:
 
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 on the following points below.
 
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.
 
 
Sincerely,
 
Cheryl A Poe
Advocating 4 Kids
CommentID: 2199
 

9/16/08  2:08 pm
Commenter: Judy Mejia

Your Current Proposal Gives Too Much Weight to Alternative Credentials!
 

Dear Members of the Board of Education:

I am a Virginia resident and a strong supporter of our public schools.  As a graduate of Henrico County 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 and University administrator, I care about creating opportunities for our high school students to complete high school with meaninful educational opportunities  and to prepare for a life of purposeful citizenry. 

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.

Sincerely,

Judy R. Mejia

6321 Mallicotte Lane

Henrico, VA 23231

CommentID: 2201
 

9/16/08  2:13 pm
Commenter: Dee Jacobson

My 11 yr old son has learning disabilities & is on track to graduate with an advanced degree.
 

Dear Members of the Board of Education:

 

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. 

Currently I serve on two of Fredericksburg City School Parent Advisory Committees, Special Education and Gifted and Talented.

My 11 yr old son has learning disabilities & is on track to graduate with an advanced degree.  My grandson has an IEP and participates in the Gifted and Talented Programs.

I am actively involved in several groups in my area who address the needs of people with disabilities.

The answer to meeting the needs of these populations is not to lower expectations, it is in making available the supports needed to guarentee their success to their highest potentials.

 

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.

 

Sincerely, 

 Dee Jacobson

328 Brock Square

Fredericksburg, VA 22401

 

 

 

 

CommentID: 2203
 

9/16/08  2:21 pm
Commenter: Dylan Rosenthal

Increase Graduation Rates for Virginia's Most Vulnerable Students
 

Dear Members of the Board of Education:

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 an after-school program coordinator in a low-income neighborhood, I want to see all of my kids graduate from high school with a standard or advanced diploma, because I know the value that these carry.

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.

Sincerely,  

Dylan Rosenthal

804 Lyman St

Charlottesville, VA 22902

CommentID: 2204
 

9/16/08  3:20 pm
Commenter: Melinda Whitehurst

decrease high school drop outs
 

Dear Members of the Board of Education:

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.

Sincerely,

Melinda Whitehurst

130 Overlook Dr

Charlottesville, VA 22903

CommentID: 2208
 

9/16/08  5:29 pm
Commenter: BARBARA FOSTER

graduation rates
 

Dear Members of the Board of Education:

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 am a parent of two students with special needs and one typical student with concerns about all of them graduating from Virginia schools within their potential, and how this will impact their employment and higher education prospects after graduation.

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.

Sincerely,  

Barbara Foster

5232 CLIFTON ST.

ALEXANDRIA, VA 22312

CommentID: 2212
 

9/16/08  7:05 pm
Commenter: Debra A. Grant

My son just as other should be afforded a standard diploma
 

Dear Members of the Board of Education:

 

   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 a son who is ADD and he wants to get a standard diploma which is afforded to him because he did not just go to school, he work hard just as the other children to make the grade and that should give him the right to credits as other children. My son wants to and he will go to college and to achieve higher heights to reach his goals. He will do this with standard diploma and not special, modified, GED, or anything else.

   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.

 

Sincerely,

Debra A. Grant

5636 Dodington Court

Va. Beach, Va. 23462

 

CommentID: 2213
 

9/16/08  7:15 pm
Commenter: Parent, Greenbrier Schools

diplomas
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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.  

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. 

CommentID: 2214
 

9/16/08  9:07 pm
Commenter: Judy Lucenta

Reading is key
 
Dear Members of the Board of Education:
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 am an advocate for all students with dyslexia in Virginia. Please provide a scientific research-based reading program that utilizes a multisensory phonetic awareness approach to all children. Not all children are given proper training to learn how to read. If we can teach, reading to all students this will improve the graduation rate and decrease the drug abuse and crowdedness of our jails. It is the school obligation to teach reading to all students not just the children without disabilities.
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.
Sincerely,
Judy Lucenta
101 Patuxent Turn
Yorktown, Va 23693

.

CommentID: 2217
 

9/17/08  7:05 am
Commenter: Theresa Speight

Diplomas - Learning Disability
 

T

Dear Members of the Board of Education:
 
I am a Virginia resident and a strong supporter of our public schools. I understand 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 of a son with a “learning disability” (reading disorder), I think it is imperative that we ensure ALL students, regardless of their learning ability, graduate, successfully, from Virginia’s high schools.  My son works very hard in school and his goal is to earn a standard diploma, not a special or modified diploma in order to allow him to continue with a college education to fulfill his dream of being a Pilot.
 
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 respectively 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. 
 
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.
 
Sincerely, 
 
 
Theresa (parent) 
CommentID: 2221
 

9/17/08  9:15 am
Commenter: The Sound of Judah

Revision of Regulations for School Accreditation
 

Dear Members of the Board of Education:

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 assume this position as an educator, mother of a special needs child who is targeted for graduation in 2011 and as a Pastor whose congregation is comprised of minority and special needs students.

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. 
 

Thank you,

Trenace B. Lewis; 4508 Mossycup Court Virginia Beach, Va. 23462

 JL

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 earlly 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.

 

 

AL

CommentID: 2224
 

9/17/08  10:18 am
Commenter: Mary S. Howard

Regulation on School Accreditation
 

 

Dear Members of the Board of Education:

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. 

We are now implementing school uniforms to help build self esteem and concentration on studies. It is unfortunate due to the area the kids live in,  the way  teachers are instructing  or lifes circumstances causes students to fail and feel bad about themselves, and once they are revived and decide to make a change in their lives, society shouldn't be given the right to make them feel inferior .  

 

 

 

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.

Sincerely, 

Mary S. Howard

119  Shore Street, Petersburg, Va. 23803


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CommentID: 2227
 

9/17/08  11:26 am
Commenter: Regina Craig, Parent

Regulation revision for School Accreditation
 

     Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed revisions to the regulations on School Accreditation.

     My mother would talk to us about her decision at age sixteen to drop out of school. She was raised by her grandparents and the family had little resources. Her grandfather became ill and resources really became limited. While she loved school there was very little worth placed on education in this small town you were worth more if you were working. So the perception to my sixteen year old mother was that she was poor and poor people get busy and work .

Soon she found out her choices over the next 50 years would be affected by that decision.  She was forced to work as a domestic and earned not much over minimum wage for the next 40 years. She wished she had an ally at school that could have helped encourage her to continue. There were none, and there is not a day that goes by that she does not regret that decision!

While there have been some opportunities for a little more pay if she got her GED it still was not the kind of opportunities she swas now busy with life and those opportunities are hard to take advantage of later in life.  We do not want this life of regret or mere existance for the children in our community.  We want them to realize their full potential. To do this we must aim high and not feel satisfied with sub-standards.  While the other alternatives have their place, I believe we should have high expectations and, therefore  only standard or advanced diplomas should get full credit, other options should be weighted according to their value to the student after high school.

We must graduate kids and keep them engaged and aware how education effects their future. 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.

I Hope you increase the target to at least 90 points or adjust the graduation completion index so that it gives schools more points for standard and advance diplomas and fewer points for alternative diplomas and other credentials. We must provide students the tools they need to transition into their community ready to fulfill their greatest potential.

Thank you for your consideration,

Sincerely,

Regina Craig, Parent and daughter that broke the cycle!...it can be done.

CommentID: 2232
 

10/20/08  10:37 am
Commenter: Shelton Land, Land Mindz, Inc

Standards of Accreditation
 

Dear Members of the Board of Education:

 

I am a Virginia resident, who grew up in Norfolk, Virginia. As a high school teenager, I attended public schools. During my tenure, something always puzzled me, why my parents always pushed more intensely than the school administrators to graduate with honors. “You need to just get a diploma, so that you can get a good job or go to college.” This statement is often announced by parents in low-income homes. Unbeknownst to parents, this is untrue. Many kids go through high school, trying to attain the basics to get to the next level.  Although my family was aware of the different levels and significance, other families or kids in similar age brackets in my low-income community had no idea

 

My parents continuously pushed me towards graduating with an honor diploma in a system that many black underprivileged kids feel deprived in.  However, not adhering to their warnings, I dropped out of school for a period. Yet my mother was determined not to lose me to the streets, so she enrolled me in an adult school. I attended this school for a year and was able to graduate with my high school diploma, while earning a GED, as well. But I found all my effort and hard work required harder work, in order to gain admittance to Norfolk State University’s (NSU) four year mass communication program

 

Prior to being accepted into NSU, it was stated that I had to take non-credit remedial college courses because my diploma was a standard one; which also meant more money. I was speechless! I even considered giving up.  But I inquired about my options and was given an entry exam, which I scored above average on and was “deemed academically competent” for regular college coursework. Since the occurrence, I have obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from NSU, currently seeking my Masters degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and am the Executive Director and Founder of Land Mindz, Inc. (a federally recognized non-profit organization). Although I overcame this barrier, many individuals still face it.

 

Knowing the importance and difference of diploma types would induce many parents in the low income community to push their children toward the highest attainable diploma. Yet, not knowing they simply encourage children to just graduate; leaving them to believe that they will make it easily. Thus, graduation rates are essential; especially to families in the low socio-economic community.  A system should be in place to hold schools accountable for pushing kids to achieve to their fullest potential.

Accordingly, I ask that you (1) increase the target to 90 points or more to promote diploma graduates and eliminate graduation gaps among student subgroups; (2) provide a small “extra credit” value to Advanced and Standard diploma-earners; (3) weight Special and Modified diplomas below the Advanced and Standard diplomas; and (4) lower the value of all non- diploma options such as GEDs and Certificates of Completion to reflect the diminished opportunities that they offer to students.  The accountability system you create will help students from low income communities, like me, to have the chance they need to achieve their full potential.

 

Sincerely,

  

 

Shelton Land

CommentID: 2867
 

10/23/08  9:55 am
Commenter: Ginger Smith

Graduation Rates
 

Q

Dear Members of the Board of Education:
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. 
 
It is extremely important for  ALL students to have the skills to compete in our global economy.  High academic expections will keep the United States as a strong world leader and provide high quality jobs for our students. 
  • 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.
 
Sincerely,
 
Ginger J. Smith
11810 Bollingbrook Drive
Richmond, VA  23236
CommentID: 2869
 

10/23/08  9:56 am
Commenter: Judi DeDonato

Please Raise Graduation Expectations
 

Dear Members of the Board of Education:

 

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.

 

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.

 

Sincerely,

 

Judi DeDonato

Ashburn, VA

CommentID: 2870
 

10/23/08  10:23 am
Commenter: Sharon Waters, Parent

Need Guidance Counselors to Understand the Significance of Children with Autistic disorders
 

 It is most important that guidance counselors at all schools in Virginia understand the importance of encouraging students with disabilities to achieve their best, to never give up. My daughter had an awful guidance counselor at Western Branch Middle School in Chesapeake that totally discouraged my daughter from believing that she could achieve in any area. Western Branch High School was no better either in this area. Of course, this was very disheartening for my daughter, as she is on the autistic spectrum. Virginia has no idea how to reach students on the autistic spectrum and they need to provide greater professional development for guidance counselors, especially, and special education teachers on the different needs of children with autism. I do believe that children in this category are not receiving a FAPE in Virginia.

 

CommentID: 2871
 

10/23/08  10:28 am
Commenter: Beth Perry

My son works so hard. He deserves a standard diploma when he graduates.
 

Dear Members of the Board of Education:

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. 

My son has been struggling to catch up with his grade level peers since he began Kindergarten. In it my feeling that even if he remains a year behind his peers, he should be able to obtain a regular diploma in the time allotted to him by the Commonwealth.  If the school does their job, there is no reason he can't.

  • 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.

Sincerely,  

Beth Perry

P.O. Box 512

Millers Tavern VA 23115

CommentID: 2872
 

10/23/08  10:54 am
Commenter: Lisa M Roberts , Parent of special needs student

Graduation Target for Virginia’s schools
 

 

Dear Members of the Board of Education:
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 a 15 year old son with some learning difficulties and also attends the Harrisonburg High School and who is more than willing and very capable of learning.  However the school system in Harrisonburg does not have adequate resources, skills in order to challenge him.  He has been shrugged off to the side for the last several years.   Finally after having called the State level of education there has been a start for him, however I do see the teacher and staffs reluctance.  Why did I have to be the one to jump all over everyone to get it done?  Why was the problem not recognized by the "professionals" and attended to?  I feel that if my son were to be educated properly he could have graduated with a regular diploma.  More attention is needed to the special educational department at Harrisonburg City Schools.  Not only do we need to increase the target for the graduation index we also need teachers and staff who know what they are doing so they can graduate.
  • 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.
Sincerely,  
Lisa M Roberts
P O Box 1815
Harrisoburg VA 22803
CommentID: 2873
 

10/23/08  11:10 am
Commenter: Michele H Blitz

Graduation Targets
 

Dear Members of the Board of Education:

I am a Virginia resident and a supporter of our public schools.  I understand the Board's efforts to make graduation rates a priority for Virginia high schools. However,  given the importance of producing graduates ready to compete in post secondary education and the  work force, I'm writing to ask that you take a stronger stand. 

As the parent of 3 VA high school graduates, one who required special education, I can say from experience that the lowest common denominator among students is too often the goal that is persued in the classroom.  This benefits no one: neither the least able nor the most able can aspire to their potential, much less reach it.  Our students and our Commmonwealth deserve so much more 

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. 

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.

Sincerely,  

Michele Hymer Blitz

2883 Macao Dr.

Herndon,VA 20171  

CommentID: 2874
 

10/23/08  1:19 pm
Commenter: Lynn Wingard

Graduation Targets
 

Dear Members of the Board of Education:

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 am a parent and a Scout Leader, and I know that many Virginia Students have special needs, including my son. I ask that you do the following:

  • 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. I feel lucky the my son is in a school that supports students with learning disabilities in their goals for advanced diplomas and a college education, but not all schools are motivated to do this.

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.

Sincerely,  

G. Lynn Wingard

20488 Ashley Terrace

Sterling, VA 20165

CommentID: 2875
 

10/23/08  1:21 pm
Commenter: Sheila Kuders, Parent of 3 disabled children, autism and multiple disabilit

What Good are the Diplomas?
 

 These children are going to need assistance in all areas of life.  So what good is the diploma if there are inadequate services to provide them with access to a life in the community after graduation?  At present, the Fairfax County Public School System/Community Services Board has no funding to assist the MR graduates for 2009 and beyond.  That means no supported employment, no day programs.  I think this is a more critical issue than worrying about what kind of diploma the invididual graduates with. 


CommentID: 2876
 

10/23/08  1:56 pm
Commenter: VA Public School Graduate

Increase support for dropout prevention among LEP and pregnant teens
 

Dear Virginia Board of Education,

     First off, I would like to thank-you for the work you are doing on making graduation rates in VA schools a high priority. I am a direct benefit of that work- I attended VA public schools from kindergarten all the way through my college graduation. I am currently working on my doctorate at another VA public school, Virginia Commonwealth University.  As a graduate of VA public schools, I have seen the life changing benefit that a solid education provides.  Through my work conducting research and conducting therapy with Latino/Hispanic adolescents, I have seen the struggles that many of these adolescents go through to stay in school. I have seen teens not get enrolled in schools for months or years after arriving in the US because they and their families did not know how to navigate the school enrollment process and did not speak enough english to ask. I have seen teens with babies leave school or miss it for weeks on end because they did not have anyone to take care of their baby. I have seen school administrators tell people that a teen was not welcome at their school because the teen did not have a social security number. I have seen teens with nowhere to turn...  I would like to urge you to not base school accreditation only on test scores. Instead I would like to encourage you to provide a strong reward system for schools that find ways to keep students engaged in and attending school. In particular, I would like to urge you to provide incentives to increase graduation rates for Latino/Hispanic students, especially targeting those that are limited english proficiency. I would also add to that, incentives to increase graduation rates for pregnant teenagers.

Thank-you for your consideration of this matter.

-A concerned VA public school graduate

CommentID: 2877
 

10/23/08  2:13 pm
Commenter: BARBARA KEEFE , PARENT

STUDENTS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS DIPLOMA
 

TySTATE BOARD OF EDUCATUTION ,

pPLEASE SUPPORT THE STANDARDS OF LEARNING &EARNING POINTS TO WARDS  GRADUATING, MAYBE WE SHOULD HAVE DONE THIS A LONG TIME AGO,WE CAN'T  CHANGE

THE  PAST BUT WE CAN  CHANGE THE FUTURE . MY DAUGTHERS , BOTH HAVE SPECIAL NEEDS EVERYBODY DESERVES THE RIGHT  DIPLOMIA  THEY WORK  THREE TIMES  AS  HARD AS ANYONE ELSE DOES .  ALSO  THEY DESERVE TO HAVE SOME CREDITS GIVEN TO THEM . OTHER STUDENTS WITHOUT DISABILLITIES GET THEM WHY CAN'T THEM GIVE CREDITS WERE IT IS DO TO EVERYONE. THANK YOU  PLEASE CONSIDER THIS. SOON . SO OTHERSCAN RECEIVE CREDITS, WHERE CREDITS ARE DUE.  CHANGE NEEDS TO BE MADE NOW FOR THE

FUTURE IS THEIRS ALSO .    BARBARA KEEFE                                                   

CommentID: 2878
 

10/23/08  2:59 pm
Commenter: Melinda Whitehurst

high school graduation - diplomas and drop outs
 

Dear Members of the Board of Education:

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 am a parent - infant educator working with The Arc of the Piedmont. The parents I work with often do not have a high school diploma and it prevents them from finding employment, suitable housing and in promoting school to their children. 

  • Please increase the graduation rates of all students and decrease the drop out rates. Schools need to become more flexible in meeting the needs of their various students. Develop life long learners despite what students choose to do after high school. 
  • 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.

Sincerely,  Melinda Whitehurst

CommentID: 2879
 

10/23/08  3:45 pm
Commenter: Carrie Shuler

Comment
 

 

Dear Members of the Board of Education:

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. 

Our children's future depends on important decisions like these.

  • 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.

Sincerely,  

Carrie Shuler

4850 Highlands Place

Charlottesville, VA  22901

 

CommentID: 2880
 

10/23/08  5:49 pm
Commenter: D. DiCola

Please increase the target for the graduation index to at least 90 points, OR adjust the graduation
 

 and complex index for more points for standard and advanced diplomas and less points for alternative ones and other credentials.

CommentID: 2881
 

10/23/08  8:00 pm
Commenter: Ms. Vasantha K. Rayman

Help Stdents with Disabilities Succeed
 

Dear Members of the Board of Education,

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 of a child with special needs I do care about the number of students graduating from Virginia's high schools.  Given adequate support and opportunities to reach their full potential every child can successfully graduate.

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.

Sincerely,

Ms. Vasntha Rayman

4464 Forest Glen Ct.

ANNANDALE,VA 22003

CommentID: 2882
 

10/23/08  10:02 pm
Commenter: Deanne McNulty

increase graduation rates in VA
 

Dear Members of the Board of Education:

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 forVirginia 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 a daughter who is struggling with a developmental delay whom I pray will be graduating from high school and moving on to be a productive member of our community.  I believe we need to strive to make needed adjustments to our school system to allow for our children to meet the goals needed to graduate and work in our communities.  

  • 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.

Sincerely,  

Deanne McNulty

304 Yale Drive, Alexandria, VA 22314 

 

CommentID: 2883
 

10/24/08  8:44 am
Commenter: Keith S. Farrell

Graduation Index
 
Dear Members of the Board of Education:
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.  My oldest son Stephen was not well served by the special education services and he struggled all the way through High School until he finally dropped out and took the GED.  He scored very high on the rest of the test, but his Language Arts score was 450, the minimum passing score for that part.  If he had been properly tested and diagnosed he might have received the help he needed to make school an enjoyable part of his childhood instead of a hellish nightmare of constantly failing and being made to feel like he was dumb.  Stephen has scored 130 on a Mensa IQ test using a (reading only) assistant, so the problem wasn't his intelligence, it was our school systems failure to notice that an unusually bright student had trouble reading, and couldn't succed. 

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.
Sincerely,  
Keith S. Farrell
938 Greenwood Road
Winchester, VA 22602
CommentID: 2884
 

10/24/08  10:22 am
Commenter: Nancy F. Maloy

Graduation Index
 

Dear Members of the Board of Education:

I am a Virginia resident , spouse of an educator, grandparent of Evan who is autistic, 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. 

  • 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.

Sincerely,  

Nancy F. Maloy

1144 Reas Ford Rd.

Earlysville, VA 22936

CommentID: 2885
 

10/24/08  4:42 pm
Commenter: Ken Yasnowsky

Graduation Target for Virginia’s schools
 
Dear Members of the Board of Education:
 
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 a 12 year old boy with Autism.  I am very concerned that he must achieve a standard high school diploma.  Most colleges will only accept this for entry.   He needs more help than others and I suspect it will take him longer to graduate but he must not be pushed through with a lesser diploma. 
 
If my son is to be a productive tax-paying member of society he must achieve a standard diploma and not a modified or other sub-par altnerative diploma.
 
The goal must not be to make our schools diploma factories but to make well educated productive members of our society.

 

  • 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 potential, 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.
 
 
 
 
 
Sincerely,  
 
Ken Yasnowsky
1600 Porters Mill Rd.
Midlothian, VA  23114
CommentID: 2886
 

10/25/08  12:17 pm
Commenter: Kathleen E. Valentine

Graduation Rates
 

Dear Members of the Board of Education:

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. 

  • 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.

Sincerely,  Kathleen E. Valentine


CommentID: 2887
 

10/27/08  11:46 am
Commenter: Melissa C. Goemann, Juvenile Law and Policy Clinic, UR Law

Hold schools to high graduation standards
 

The Juvenile Law and Policy Clinic at the University of Richmond’s T.C. Williams School of Law advocates for youth from a variety of backgrounds, including those involved in the juvenile justice system.  We commend your efforts to set a statewide graduation accreditation rate.   However, the current target of 80 points is too low.  We ask that you (1) increase the target to 90 points to promote diploma graduates and eliminate graduation gaps among student subgroups; (2) provide a small “extra credit” value to Advanced diploma-earners; (3) weight Special and Modified diplomas at 100 points; and (4) lower the value of all non-diploma options such as GEDs and of Certificates of Completion to reflect the diminished opportunities that they offer to students.

A high school degree is vital to a youth’s ability to pursue higher education or secure a job that will ensure self-sufficiency.  High school graduation rates are particularly important to those of us working with delinquent youth because many of our clients fall through the cracks in their school when they become involved in the justice system.  One study estimates that75% of all prisoners are high school dropouts.[1]  This is particularly concerning because between 38% and 42% of youth admitted to the juvenile justice system in Virginia were previously identified as special education eligible.[2]  These students, in particular, need high graduation standards in order to help them achieve their highest potential before it is too late.

We congratulate the Board of Education for the On Time Graduation Rates published in October, 2008.[1]  While the overall graduation rate of 81% is commendable, the data reflected that graduation rates vary greatly by race.  There is a nearly 13 percentage point gap between white and black students and a 15.3 percentage point gap between white and latino students.  White students are twice as likely as black students to earn an Advanced Diploma in 4 years.  Students labeled as “disadvantaged” are graduating at a rate of only 69.8%.  In 15 school divisions, less than 70% of the Class of 2008 made it graduation day in 4 years.  All students should have an equal opportunity to be workforce and college ready.  By raising the target to 90 points, you will ensure that students from all racial and socioeconomic groups have a chance to reach their highest potential. 

Additionally, the proposed plan places too much weight on alternative credentials, including General Education Development (GEDs) and Certificates of Completion.  Under the proposed standards, a GED is worth 75 points and the target is set at 80 points.   Thus, a school could become fully accredited by awarding 80 GEDs and only 20 diplomas.  A Certificate of Completion is worth 60 points, but there is no statewide standard for when a school may award this credential.[1]

Setting the target so close to the value of the GED may have the unintended consequence of tracking students, who could earn a Standard diploma with the right supports and services, into a GED program.  A GED should be available as a last resort because it offers a significant decrease in earning potential.  GED holders are not eligible for army recruiting bonuses that can reach up to $40,000.[1]   GED earners earn 18% less than high school graduates.[2]  They are also less likely than graduates complete higher education.  Only 10% of GED holders graduate from a two or four year college.[3]  Although GEDs are intended for adult dropouts, over one-third (37%) of all GED candidates in Virginia are between the ages of 16 and 18.[4]

There are times when it is realistic to encourage a likely dropout to pursue a GED and students who work hard to earn one deserve our respect.  Given what is at stake for our students, however, we must ensure that GEDs are used as a last resort and that schools are encouraged to track students towards diplomas.  Thus, the target should be increased to 90 or the value of these alternative credentials should be reduced. 

           In summary, please raise the target to 90 points so schools can be held to a high graduation standard for students of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds.  Please also award more credit for Advanced and Standard diplomas than GEDs to reflect the increased economic and educational opportunities that these diplomas afford.  Educational success translates to greater life chances for youth, reduces their rate of re-entry into the juvenile justice system, and promotes a safer and more economically vibrant Virginia.  Thank you for your consideration.

Melissa Coretz Goemann

 Director, Juvenile Law and Policy Clinic, University of Richmond School of Law

           

 



[1] “Army offers $40K Recruiting Bonus of HS grads,” NPR (Feb. 5, 2008). 

[2] “GED Battery. No Substitute for Diploma,” Education Week (June 22, 2006).

[3] Id.

[4] Id.



[1] Va. Code Ann. § 22.1-253.13:4



[1] Class of 2008 On-Time Graduation Rate.  Data is available at www.doe.virginia.gov.



[1] Harlow, C.W., “Education and Correctional Populations. Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report,” US Department of Justice (October, 2003).

[2] Virginia Juvenile Justice Summit on Children and Youth with Disabilities: Executive Summary. (October 16, 2001).

CommentID: 2888
 

10/27/08  12:49 pm
Commenter: Carolyn Micklem, African American Teaching Fellows of Charlottesville - Alb

Need to increase graduate rates
 

Dear Members of the Board of Education:

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.

This is an especially important issue here in
Charlottesville and AlbemarleCounty where the graduation rate of white children is close to 85% - and of black children, closer to 67% in both school districts.  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.
The African American Teaching Fellows program (AATF) is one approach to decreasing the achievement gap and increasing the graduation rate among African American students. By increasing the number of African American teachers, there are role models who “look like them” and who can inspire and challenge African American students to want to become professionals themselves. We need those role models at all levels in public education, and especially during the Pre-K to Third grade level. 
Virginia's students need to receive appropriate funds and support 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.

Sincerely,
Carolyn Micklem
Director
African American Teaching Fellows of CharlottesvilleAlbemarleCounty
3040A Berkmar Drive
Charlottesville, VA22901
 

 

CommentID: 2889
 

10/27/08  1:04 pm
Commenter: Brian Johns

Please Increase Graduation Index
 

Dear Members of the Board of Education:

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 graduate of Virginia public schools and now as a parent I think it is vitally important that we not set the bar low in what we want to see our children accomplish.  They deserve all of the support we can possibly give them as they get an education here in the Commonwealth. 

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.

Sincerely,

Brian Johns, Abingdon VA

CommentID: 2890
 

10/27/08  1:12 pm
Commenter: Katherine B. Hoffman, Charlottesville NOW

Graduation Rates Matter
 

Dear Members of the Board of Education:

As President of the Charlottesville regional chapter of the National Organization for Women, as a mother of two children who attended public schools and who are now in college, as a Virginia resident, and as a strong supporter of our public schools for all our students, I write to ask you to make graduation rates matter. 

Graduation rates are one of your priorities which we appreciate for Virginia high schools, but for each individual we need to make that a priority.  Successful education is the success of each and every individual and strongly impacts their future.  Our Virginia students need to be ready for college, work in an international economy of unknown ups and downs, and for standing on their own feet and making a life for themselves.  

This organization has a purpose to "bring women into full participation in American society now, exercising all privileges and responsibilities in equal partnership with men includ[ing] equal rights and responsibilities in all aspects of citizenship, public service, employment, education and family life...[and] freedom from discrimination because of race, ethnic origin, age, marital status, sexual preference/orientation, or parenthood.”  and we have goals to;

Changing Cultural Attitudes and Images - Charlottesville NOW seeks to free women and men from the oppression of pre-determined gender roles. Stereotyping limits aspirations and opportunities for women and girls in education and careers.

Improving the Economic Status of Women - Charlottesville NOW is dedicated to empowering women financially and overcoming society's apathy towards the feminization of poverty. The vast majority of the poor in our country are women and children. Barriers inhibiting access to basic education, health care, and social services—and the persistence of low-income “women's work”—contribute to an ongoing cycle of poverty. We work to reduce the disparity in earnings between men and women (known as the “wage gap”); eradicate sex discrimination in employment, credit, insurance, inheritance laws, taxes, and advertising; and increase the number of women in positions of power.

Eliminating Racism and Protecting Minority Rights - Charlottesville NOW is committed to eliminating discrimination against individuals, including their sex, race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, or national origin. We particularly want to end the double burden carried by women of color because of the discrimination they experience due to their race as well as their sex. We work to secure full human rights for all people, including lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transsexuals. We seek a unified women's movement that promotes respect for the uniqueness and dignity of every individual.


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. 

Individual students need to receive appropriate supports to reach their potentials; all the communities and  the Commonwealth as a whole will benefit from incentives to provide the needed supports to ensure the maximum possible graduate with regular diplomas to help they be ready to fulfill their greatest potential.

Sincerely,

Kobby Hoffman

President

Charlottesville National Organizatoin for Women (CNOW)

 

CommentID: 2891
 

10/27/08  5:33 pm
Commenter: Alice Cannon

graduation rate increase
 



Dear Members of the Board of Education:
 
I have three adult children who attended and graduated from Virginia public school. I have been active in the schools for years, continuing to volunteer and caring passionately about our wonderful children and the education that they receive in our public schools.  I am hoping that you will support targeting the graduation index to at least 90%. Another alternative would be to adjust the graduation and completion index in a way that schools would receive more points for Standard and Advanced Diplomas and fewer points for alternative diplomas and other credentials.
 
We need to support our students and help them to reach their potentials.  We will all benefit from higher graduation rates. There are fewer and fewer places in the economy for students who have not succeeded in school.  We really need our kids graduating fully prepared for higher education, better jobs and more fulfilling lives.
 
Please aim high on behalf of our children and take a stronger stand on this important issue.
 
Thank you for your time,
 
Alice Cannon
Earlysville, Va. 22936

CommentID: 2892
 

10/27/08  6:12 pm
Commenter: Kinne Hoffman

Please Increase Target Graduation Index to 90 or Award More Points for Standards/Advanced Diplomas
 

Dear Board of Education:

I appreciate the Board's efforts to make graduation rates a priority for Virginia high schools and am writing to ask that you take an even stronger stand. 

 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. 

I am a Virginia resident, a strong supporter of our public schools, and parent of two teenagers -- one a recent high school graduate who received special education services and an Advanced Diploma, the other anticipating graduation among the top 5% of the 2011class.  I feel quite strongly that we must set very high standards for high school diplomas to best prepare Virginia students to secure future employment.  These days a high school diploma is hardly adequate, students who attend college have the edge, and an alternative high school diploma can seem "second rate" to employers.

Virginia’s students need to receive appropriate supports to reach their potential, 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.

Sincerely,

Kinne J. Hoffman

98 Meadowbrook Ct., Charlottesville, VA  22901

CommentID: 2893
 

10/27/08  9:47 pm
Commenter: Margaret Kertess

Help Virginia students graduate
 

Dear Members of the Board of Education:

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. 

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 earlly 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.

CommentID: 2894
 

10/28/08  10:18 am
Commenter: Rebecca Slickis

Increase Target Graduation Index
 

Dear Members of the Board of Education:

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.

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.

Sincerely, 

Rebecca Slickis

2300 24th Road South #1021

Arlington, VA 22206

CommentID: 2895
 

10/28/08  2:48 pm
Commenter: Becky Thomas

Graduation Targets
 

Dear Members of the Board of Education,

Alerted by two organizations in which I have the utmost confidence, I am writing to say that
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.

My own children went through the Charlottesville school system and have gone on to great things.  Every student should be brought up to the highest standard of which he or she is capable!

So 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.

Sincerely,

CommentID: 2896
 

10/28/08  4:58 pm
Commenter: Geraldine Woodley - Parent, Sponsor BRRS

Graduation Rates
 

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Dear Members of the Board of Education:
 
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.
 
Sincerely,  
Geraldine W. Woodley
P.O.Box 832
Lawrenceville, VA 23868

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CommentID: 2897
 

10/29/08  9:24 am
Commenter: Susan Clark

Support for Standard and Advanced Diplomas
 

 Dear Members of the Board of Education:

 

 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 am a retired counselor whose two daughters graduated from Albemarle County high schools a numbers of years ago.  My husband was a teacher and high school administrator and I have taught special education and been a guidance counselor in public schools in Northern Virginia.  I am in favor of measures to encourage schools to support more students in receiving Standard or Advanced Diplomas because I know these degrees have more meaning in the world beyond high school.

 

 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.

 

 Sincerely, Susan Clark

CommentID: 2898
 

10/29/08  11:47 am
Commenter: Janice Armstrong

High School Graduation
 

With the exception of a small percentage, special education students are capable of meeting and need to meet the same standards as all students.  It is the obligation of the school to prepare the children for independent living, employment, and further education.  If they are to receive those rights they need a high school diploma that means the same for all children. Special ed kids may learn in alternative ways or in some cases need accommodations in order to show what they know, but they should not be taught down to or be treated with low expectations.  Special ed is not "general ed light", it is specially designed presentation with the expectation of the same outcome.

It begins at the primary level.  The new wave of excusing special ed kids from SOL exams through portfolios has totally relieved the elementary schools of their accountability in teaching kids to read and do math.  Kids who are 2 and three years behind in reading and math are passing advanced proficient on VGLA, but they are not being taught to read.  The high schools inherit them. Graduation and a diploma should mean something and it begins in the primary reading programs.  If kids leave 6th grade reading and computing on grade level they will graduate from high school.

 

CommentID: 2899
 

10/29/08  12:32 pm
Commenter: William G. Duval

PEATC Next Steps
 

Sir/Ma'am,

 

I solicit your personal assistance in ensuring that the State of Virginia change whatever laws/regulations/rules that may need to be changed to: 1. increase graduation rates, and more importantly, 2. reward the hard work by all those thousands of children with varying degrees of disability that God has placed at a disadvantage in the accomplishment of successfully navigating the State imposed hoops in the SOL Tests.  Children with disabilities work far harder to achieve goals than the average student does, and that hard work should be reflected by them earning at the very minimum a standard diploma.  Overachievers are rewarded with an advanced diploma so the field needs to be leveled by equally recogizing those among us who, no matter how hard they work, can never achieve at the same rate as some others.

 

I have earned several civilian degrees through the Masters level, and have successfully completed the same levels of educational attainment in the military schooling system up to the Army War College level.  I know what hard work is in advancing oneself.  And I also know how hard a child with a disability works to try to achieve what the school system demands from them - my Grandson is just one of those students who the current system implemented by the State of Virginia could potentially leave behind.  Without a normal high school diploma my Grandson will be sent on in life form the Virginia school system with a greater handicap then when he entered - NO Diploma!  I have spent a lifetime working in the service of our country in the Army and for the US Government in order to make this country a better, safer place for all of us to raise our children and grandchildren.  All of my work and experience and that of millions of others like me will be for not if the State of Virginia does not develop a method to recognize the achievements of all of our children, regardless of God given talents and abilities.  Thank you for your attention.

 

Bill Duval

703-530-6349

CommentID: 2900
 

10/29/08  12:56 pm
Commenter: Desiree Childress

Graduation
 

Dear Members of the Board of Education:

As a mom of many hats to four children with different abilities, I have struggled while working with the schools to provide an education that will yield, at minimum, a standard diploma for my children.  I am writing in my experience as a parent.

 My oldest is 16 in tenth grade.  During her 8th grade year, I was never informed or offered in her IEP the ability to do a VGLA.  It was in my own search that I came across this option.  She was a candidate, only passing one SOL from 3rd grade.  If we missed that opportunity, we may be looking at an IEP Diploma today.  VSEP in high school is another avenue that is not supported for those who have difficulties with SOL’s despite accommodations.   Strengthening the support and access for equitable assessment would help those kids who can’t perform with standard SOL’s.

My two youngest sons in 3rd grade have various differences that make taking accommodating SOL’s challenging.  Within their abilities, they meet challenges with autism, partial blindness, dyslexia, ADHD, and severe dysgraphia.   If VSEP were supported and readily available in high school, doing VGLA would be acceptable.  Walls go up when asking for VSEP in high school, and ignorance is muck for VGLA in 8th.   Also, within this age and population, taking SOL’s for practice and knowledge should still be offered.   PSAT/SAT/ACT college exams have accommodations that should mirror high school accommodations on SOL’s.   By taking the SOL’s (while filing VGLA/VSEP) would give practice and skill to fair on college entrance exams, and college exams itself.

In the world of technology advancement, SOL’s are moving to computers.  For some kids, computers can offer advantages.  The accommodation list for computers really needs revamping.  Color/filter screens, enlarged font, voice over options, reading options, and hiding icons should all be standard accommodations.  As an adult with dyslexia, I share the same frustrations my children experience when reading/typing from a bright screen with small fonts.  Being successful under standard computerize testing reduces greatly when words/letters are distorted.

Inclusive education with supports in the general classroom is also a must to ensure that all students are covering material needed for a standard diploma.  Knowledge of providing material in a variety of learning styles should also be supported.  The SOL’s are formatted, mostly, for the auditory learner.  Having SOL’s support a multi-sensory approach would help all children.

With current accommodations, my sons will not grow to gain a standard diploma (or greater) in the Virginia Public School System.  If options do not change by the time they are in middle school, homeschooling seems to be the brighter option for their future employment and education.

In summary, I would ask that you

·         look and revamp computer accommodations,

·         make VGLA/VSEP offered and reviewed in each IEP during the 8th grade year,

·         have avenues and supports in place for VSEP in high school,

·          for those who take the VGLA/VSEP avenue, still have the opportunity to take the SOL’s accommodated for practice and knowledge for higher education opportunities,

·          keep the kids all supported in a general educational setting,

·         And lastly, look at the curriculum framework and add multisensory learning within the scope of SOL’s.

Thank you for your time in reading and considering my points of view. 

Desiree Childress

Bassett, VA

 

CommentID: 2901
 

10/29/08  5:40 pm
Commenter: Preston Lemon

Highschool graduation rates
 
Dear Members of the Board of Education:
  I am a Virginia resident and father of a high school student. My son is currently in the tenth grade. I am a recent separate of the United Sates Navy, so my experience with the state's educational system is limited to my current situation. I was born and educated to the high school level in New York State.
My experience and knowledge of how important quality education is has prompted me to address this issue. We, as a society must be well informed of our options and opportunities. The decision to stay in or drop out of high school must be made with the expression of every option that the decision creates. The same is true of the decision of which type of diploma to pursue. Advanced diplomas offer more options to students than “standard” diplomas do. For example, most four-year colleges in Virginia do not accept students who earn standard diplomas without additional coursework. If more parents and children understood this fact alone dropout rates would decrease accordingly.
As I am continuing my education and reflecting on my child's opportunities to advance and become a productive law abiding citizen. Along with my son I reviewed a booklet downloaded form the Hampton Public Schools website, describing the different programs available. Personally I was over-whelmed from all the information. Only after discussing with my son the career path he is interested in was I able to understand the different programs and which one was optimal for my sons success. However, there was little clarity in how the different degree and certificate programs would effect him with the educational path he chose.
I would be disappointed in a society that does not address the neglect of not giving our children and their parents all the facts when making the decisions associated with dropping out of high school. As I have assisted my son with his opportunities that have been presented by Hampton High School it is complex and borderline frustrating to decide on which avenue is appropriate for my son to complete. I can only imagine what people that do not share my ideas of college and life after high school go through when presented with confusing information regarding graduation rates and the importance of education and completing high school with the idea that education must continue.
The different options for not graduating with the intent to continue education has a devastating effect not only on the individual but the family, community and country as a whole will suffer. This is obvious in the disparity in the amount of money people make with and without post high school education. Also, in the way people pass on their ideas of education to their children; it is a vicious cycle that has been proven ineffective to our communities and must be addressed immediately. I believe a rigorous graduation accountability system will go a long way toward addressing this problem.
Accordingly, I ask that you (1) increase the target to 90 points or more to promote diploma graduates and eliminate graduation gaps among student subgroups; (2) provide a small “extra credit” value to Advanced diploma-earners; (3) weight Special and Modified diplomas below the Advanced and Standard diplomas; and (4) lower the value of all non- diploma options such as GEDs and Certificates of Completion to reflect the diminished opportunities that they offer to students.  The accountability system you create will help students from low income communities, like me, to have the chance they need to achieve their full potential.
 
Sincerely,
Preston Lemon
CommentID: 2902
 

10/29/08  9:34 pm
Commenter: Kelly Godwin

Public Comment from law student
 

Dear Members of the Board of Education,

 

            I am a member of the Juvenile Law and Policy Clinic at the University of Richmond’s T.C. Williams School of Law.  I am a strong advocate for education and I appreciate the Board’s efforts that have brought graduation to the forefront of education issues affecting Virginia.  I would like for the Board to take a stronger stand on promoting graduation, and realize that we now live in society where graduating from high school is a key step for sculpting our youth to achieve the careers of their choosing.

            As a young adult who is faced with the challenges of being from a biracial background and from a poor rural area, I would like for the Board to consider my own personal experiences while reconsidering their current proposal.  Several people I knew growing up had to face the negative effects of not receiving a high school diploma.  I think the most disturbing story that I can present to the Board is that of a man who is a good friend of my family.  He is a Lumbee Indian from Lumberton, North Carolina and he never graduated from high school.  He did attend the Indian Normal School for a period of time, but never completed his education.  He has spent his adult life either working menial jobs or battling drug problems.    He has also spent time incarcerated.  The saddest part about this man is that when you talk to him he is actually an intelligent man that could have done much more with his life if he had been able to complete high school.

            I would like for the Board to consider the national statistic that if male graduation rates were increased by only 5% that our nation would save $49 billion in crime-related costs annually.[1]  While I commend the Board of Education for helping to increase the overall graduation rate for male students, I ask that the Board disaggregate the graduation data between white males and black males.  The graduation rate for white males in Virginia is 75% where as the graduation rate for black males in Virginia is 54%.[2]   According to a national study, high school graduates make over twice the amount high school dropouts make.  A high school graduate on average makes approximately $36,500.00 per year where as a high school dropout makes only around $17,200.00 per year.[3]  The Virginia Government found in their study “Virginia Performs” that the main reason for a student dropping out of high school is family income.  By allowing 25% of white males to not receive high school diplomas and 46% of black males to not receive a high school diploma we are ensuring that these statistics will never get any better.  Accordingly, I ask the Board to give schools incentives to retain students and to help remedy the perpetuation of high dropout rates. 

            I realize that some students aren’t included within the graduation rates or the drop out rates because they pursued alternative credentials, such as a GED.  The current proposal by the Board holds these alternative credentials to be the equivalent of a high school diploma.  This proposal paints an unrealistic view of GED recipients since they generally perform at a lower level than high school graduates. [4]In fact, when the Board considers their current proposals I would like them to consider the following facts about the GED: 

 

o      The single 7 hour test has more than 4 out of 10 test-takers failing the exam, [5]

o      GED recipients earn on average $18,700.00 a year, [6]

o      GED recipients earn $216,500.00 less than those who receive a high school diploma,[7]

o      GED recipients experience more than twice the rate of unemployment as do high school graduates,

o      GED recipients lose job and promotion opportunities to high school diploma earners,

o      95 out of 100 GED earners who start a 4 year college program dropout, and[8]

o      75 out of 100 GED earners who start a career or technical college program do not finish.

 

            I also would like for the board to consider the following solutions when addressing the aforementioned problems:

 

o      In regards to dropout prevention, I ask that you consider rewarding schools who keep students engaged.  We also ask that you consider implementing retention programs to keep students in school.

o      With diplomas, I ask that full credit not be given for credentials that don’t offer full opportunities.  GEDs, Certificates of Program Completion, Special Diplomas, and Modified Standard Diplomas do not have the same weight in the labor market as do high school diplomas, and you should not allow students to think they do.  I also would like you to consider creating incentives for early planning and high expectations.  In addition, please consider only giving full credit for standard and advanced while other options are weighted according to the value to the student after high school.

o      I also ask the board to help increase graduation rates for Virginia’s most vulnerable students including those who are economically disadvantaged, disabled, who have limited English proficiency, and minority students.  If we disaggregate graduation data about Virginia’s most vulnerable students, then we are working towards achieving success for all.

 

            Thank you board members for your time and consideration.  I sincerely hope that you will consider the above information and the significant effects that your proposal can have upon the education of our youth.

 

Thank you,

Kelly Godwin

U of R Juris Doctorate Candidate 2010

Kelly.Godwin@richmond.edu

6830 Drayson Drive

Richmond, VA 23226



[1] Alliance for Excellent Education, Saving Futures, Saving Dollars: The Impact of Education on Crime Reduction and Earnings, 2006.

[2] Legal Aid Justice Center, Take Action on Graduation, 2008.

[3] Alliance for Excellent Education, The High Cost of High School Dropouts: What the Nation Pays for Inadequate High Schools, 2007.

[4] J. J. Heckman and P. A. LaFontaine, The GED and the Problem of Noncognitive Skills in America, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, forthcoming.

[5] "2007 GED Testing Program Statistical Report", GED Testing Service Research Studies, 2007

[6] "Economic and Noneconomic Outsome for GED Credential Recipients", GED Testing Service Research Studies, 2008

[7] "The Nonequivalence of High School Equivalents", Cameron, S.V. and Heckman, J. J.. 1991.

[8] "General Academic Achievement of Adult High School Dropouts", GED Testing Service Research Studies, 2002-1

 

CommentID: 2903