MOU Madness – III

When the Board of Education denies accreditation to a school, it requires that the local school board enter a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

We have seen that the MOU is feckless nonsense from a sovereign entity charged to enforce a law.  In particular, the standard MOU reduces a legal requirement to an unenforceable agreement that the affected school board comply with the law it is violating.  It further maunders that VDOE and the affected division “should” comply with all applicable laws and regulations.

Today we examine the second sentence of Section I of the boilerplate MOU:

A copy of the [Standards of Accreditation] requirements for schools rated Accreditation Denied is located at the following link:

In fact, that link leads not to the requirements but to the VDOE Web page titled “Standards of Accreditation.”  That Web page, in turn, has a link to an unofficial copy of the Board’s regulation.  The official copy is here.

This regulation that has the force of law provides in part:

8VAC20-131-315. Action Requirements for Schools That Are Denied Accreditation.


B. Any school rated Accreditation Denied in accordance with 8VAC20-131-300 shall be subject to actions prescribed by the Board of Education and affirmed through a memorandum of understanding between the Board of Education and the local school board. The local school board shall submit a corrective action plan to the Board of Education for its consideration in prescribing actions in the memorandum of understanding within 45 days of the notification of the rating. The memorandum of understanding shall be entered into no later than November 1 of the academic year in which the rating is awarded.

The local board shall submit status reports detailing implementation of actions prescribed by the memorandum of understanding to the Board of Education. The status reports shall be signed by the school principal, division superintendent, and the chair of the local school board. The school principal, division superintendent, and the chair of the local school board may be required to appear before the Board of Education to present status reports.

The memorandum of understanding may also include but not be limited to:

1. Undergoing an educational service delivery and management review. The Board of Education shall prescribe the content of such review and approve the reviewing authority retained by the school division.

2. Employing a turnaround specialist credentialed by the state to address those conditions at the school that may impede educational progress and effectiveness and academic success.

If you’ll parse this carefully, you’ll see that it is a redundant accumulation of feckless nonsense:

  • What constitutes an acceptable Plan?  Where is the list of minimum requirements?
  • What happens if VBOE rejects the Plan?  Does this lead to an endless loop of Plan submission and rejection?
  • What happens to a School Board that does not submit an acceptable Plan or any Plan at all?  That division already is violating Virginia law.
  • What happens to a School Board that does not execute the Plan? 
  • What happens if the Plan fails?

The MOU adds a layer of paperwork but does not answer these basic questions.  Neither does it create any enforceable requirements.  It is a bureaucratic excrescence. 

Your $22.3 million tax dollars per year at “work.”

MOU Madness: Jefferson-Houston

Jefferson-Houston School is Alexandria’s first preK-8th grade school.  J-H was warned in 2012 (search for Jefferson-Houston) and has been denied accreditation, and operating under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with VBOE, since 2013. 

The reading pass rate at J-H hit a dismal 41% at the onset of the new reading (and science) tests in 2013.  This year it improved to 60%, still 15% below the 75% accreditation level.


The math data show a similar pattern (with the big drop in 2012, the year of the new math tests).  The math score this year is seven points short of the accreditation level.


The writing, history & SS, and science pass rates show less encouraging patterns.




Perhaps the Board gets credit for the improvements in the reading and math scores.  Even so, it must take the blame for the deteriorating writing pass rate and the ongoing failure of the other scores to get even close to accreditation.

MOU Madness: Peabody

We have seen that the Board of Education places schools denied accreditation under Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs).  The Petersburg system has enjoyed the benefits of MOUs continuously since at least 2004.  The current MOU is designed to produce a mountain of paper but no measurable improvement in the education of Petersburg’s schoolchildren.

Last night I pulled the pass rates for the festering center of the Petersburg system: Peabody Middle School.  Here are the results:


Peabody made the accreditation cutoff (75%, the red line) in 2011 and –12, only to be undone by the new tests in 2013.  It now wallows at 53%.

If we extrapolate the data for the four years under the new tests, we can predict accreditation in reading somewhere after 2022:


There are no history & SS data for Peabody after 2014.  The drop that year mirrors the performance at other schools where we might infer that the school diverted efforts to dealing with the new math tests (2012) and the new English and science tests (2013), at the expense of H&SS.


Notice that the accreditation cutoff for subjects other than English is 70%.

With the really bad news saved for last, here are the math data.


More than half the kids are flunking. 

At the current rate, Peabody will break 50% somewhere around 2021.  Accreditation will remain a distant dream.


But we can rest easy: Peabody is filing a Pyrenees of paperwork with VDOE every year.

More Mischief at VDOE

VDOE is running a “survey

After two preliminary questions (nature of your interest in schools; where you live), the survey (reproduced below) asks how important the responder thinks various factors are “for federal accountability purposes.”

There are fourteen questions about matters such as pass rates, academic growth, graduation rate, dropout rate, etc. 

Then, second from the bottom, there is one about the crucial element in school success, the teachers.  But Our Leaders fall back on the old, misleading stupidity of measuring inputs and ignoring outputs: They ask about teacher credentials, not teacher effectiveness.

This fits into an ugly pattern:

It is clear that SOL performance decreases with increasing poverty.  Under the federal prod, VDOE began calculating Student Growth Percentiles (“SGPs”) that were essentially uncorrelated with economic disadvantage. 

The SGPs proved to be embarrassing to the Virginia “Education” Association and VDOE: They allowed a clear measure of teacher effectiveness (see this and this).  So VDOE abandoned ship and introduced “Progress Tables” that roughly measure student progress but mostly ignore the lack of progress.

Now they ask about the importance of teacher credentials (that do not measure teacher effectiveness) but they ignore even their diluted measure of teacher effectiveness.

Guess what: You and I get taxed to pay for this deliberate sidelining of the most important public influence on our schoolchildren, teacher effectiveness.


Here is the meat of the survey form:


MOU Madness – Petersburg

We have seen that Petersburg has been under Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with the Board of Education since at least 2004


The 2016 MOU and Plan are attached to the Board’s October agenda.  The Plan was adopted by the Petersburg School Board (search for corrective action plan) on September 21. 

Given that it must reflect the Board of Education’s latest thinking in the face of a longstanding problem, let’s look at the Plan.

The heart of the plan is at pages 6-9, titled “Implement Quality Instruction and Curricula Alignment.”  Here are those pages:




At first glance, this offers some hope: The Plan identifies a person responsible for each item and a person monitoring the responsible person.  And there are deadlines.

A closer look, however, reveals that there are no quality measures.  It’s enough to “provide guidance” or “monitor” or the like.

Another look discloses that virtually all of this is educratic busywork.  Starting from the top:

  • Provide guidance re curriculum monitoring;
  • Monitor curriculum implementation;
  • Provide procedures to monitor Special Ed. compliance;
  • Provide guidance for expectations for representatives for Special Ed. processes(!);
  • Provide guidance for expectations for monitoring “written and taught” curriculum; 
  • and on and on . . .

It’s interesting that Petersburg has been under MOUs since 2004 and it still has to be prodded to “provide guidance” and “monitor” things like curriculum. 

To the point here, none of that stuff deals with what is important: What kind of job are the teachers doing and how much are the kids learning and what happens when either of those is inadequate?

The closest the Plan gets to talking about results is the last item:

Implement and monitor a process to develop classroom summative and formative assessments which are aligned to the Standards of Learning in content and cognition and contain a sufficient number of items to assess mastery of the taught standards in a given time period.

Summative assessments” are end of unit measures of student learning; “formative assessments” provide ongoing measurement of student learning.  Translated into English, this bureaucratese says “Come up with ways to measure students’ progress, both ongoing and end of term.”

Of course, as to end of term measures this would reinvent the SOL testing and Progress Tables provided by the Board of Education. 

Redundancy aside, there are no measures here of what constitutes adequate performance, either ongoing or end of term; there is no mention of what the schools will do for students not making adequate progress or what they will do for or to teachers who do not produce adequate progress from their students or what happens to principals or the Superintendent in the absence of adequate progress.

The Human Resource section of the Plan, pp. 10-13, does deal with professional development.  But the most it requires is paperwork as to needs for and “feedback” from that activity.

In short, this “Plan” is all about inputs.  It fails to measure or demand adequate outputs.  As to the purpose of any school (learning!), there is no plan here and no accountability.

Petersburg being the poster child for the massive and ongoing failure of the Board’s accreditation process, we can be sure that this “Plan” represents the best that our Board of “Education” knows to do to fix a badly broken school system.  Which is: Erect a paperwork Everest and hope for the best.

This is worse than wasted effort; this is a malign assault on the schoolchildren of Petersburg.

But, then, we already have seen the Board members themselves admit (Sept. 21, 2016 video starting at 1:48) that they don’t know what to do about bad schools.

Your $22.3 million tax dollars per year at “work.”

Ignorance or Cowardice?

While starting to look at the Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) and Plans that the Board of Education demands of schools that have been denied accreditation, I was reminded of that Board’s terrible track record. 

The paradigm is Petersburg, which has been operating under MOUs and submitting Plans since at least 2004.  Yet, as of this year two-thirds of the public schools in Petersburg are not fully accredited.

This poses the questions: Does the Board of Education have the authority to end this assault on the children who are stuck in bad schools in Petersburg (and Richmond and . . .)?  If so, why has it not done so?

The answer to the first question is easy: Yes.

§ 22.1-253.13:3. Standard 3. Accreditation, other standards, assessments, and releases from state regulations.
                                           * * *
Each local school board shall maintain schools that are fully accredited pursuant to the standards for accreditation as prescribed by the Board of Education.

§ 22.1-253.13:8. Compliance.
                                           * * *
When the Board of Education determines that a school division has failed or refused, and continues to fail or refuse, to comply with any such Standard, the Board may petition the circuit court having jurisdiction in the school division to mandate or otherwise enforce compliance with such standard, including the development or implementation of any required corrective action plan that a local school board has failed or refused to develop or implement in a timely manner.

§ 22.1-65. Punishment of division superintendents.
A division superintendent may be assessed a reasonable fine, suspended from office for a limited period or removed from office by either the Board of Education, upon recommendation of the Superintendent of Public Instruction or the school board of the division for sufficient cause.

In short, the Board can sue to compel a school or division to meet the requirements for accreditation and it can fire a division superintendent whose incompetence or obstruction interferes with achieving accreditation.

Of course I checked to see how often the Board has used this authority.  Both a search of the VDOE Web site and an inquiry to the always helpful Chuck Pyle of VDOE gave the same answer: The Board of “Education” has never sued under § 22.1-253.13:8 and has never fired a superintendent.

This tragic failure of the Board to do its job leads to the second question: Why all this timidity?

The profound and prolonged failure in Petersburg and the admissions of the Board members (Sept. 21, 2016 video starting at 1:48) in an open session point to the same conclusion:  The Board does not know how to fix badly broken schools.

But wait!  It’s even worse than that. 

Page 22 of the Board’s 2015 Annual Report tells us:

To assist those schools which chronically fall below the achievement levels identified by the Board as fully accredited, the Department of Education continues to provide technical assistance through an academic review process, designed to help schools identify and analyze instructional and organizational factors affecting student achievement. The Department and Board are also continuing collaborative agreements with certain school divisions, detailing essential actions that must occur within affected schools. However, Board members continue to perceive a lack of statutory authority to require the most effective actions by local school systems. That remains the purview, under the Code of Virginia, of the local school board.

You read that correctly:   This Board that is too stupid or too timid to exercise its overwhelming power over local school boards wants more authority. 

Never mind the ridiculous suggestion that the Board thinks a constitutional barrier could be removed by statute.

Your $22.3 million tax dollars per year at “work.”

MOU Madness – I

Even under the Board of Education’s flexible, score-boosting “standards,” a public school or division can be denied accreditation.  The Board requires the unfortunates who are so denied to execute a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

The Board’s MOU is a terrible idea, both as to strategy and as to tactics.


First, the statutory background: The third Standard of Quality provides for accreditation and requires that schools and divisions be accredited:  “Each local school board shall maintain schools that are fully accredited pursuant to the standards for accreditation as prescribed by the Board of Education.”  The Board can sue to compel compliance with the Standards of Quality.

As a mandatory statement of “understanding,” without any hint of the agreement, consideration, or damages remedy of a contract, the MOU is even less than a contract.

Yet, even contracts to require compliance with the law are a terrible idea.  Contracts are subject to different rules than enforcement suits and orders.  And contracts have some slippery side effects, such as third party beneficiaries

No competent enforcement agency executes a contract with a violator: The agency uses contracts to buy paper and toner; it abates violations by exercising its authority to issue orders or to bring suit.  Use of a contract as an enforcement tool usually signals a reluctance to actually enforce. 

MOUs have their uses; they are particularly useful for dividing turf between agencies.  For example, the State Water Control Board has plenary authority over groundwater while the State Board of Health has authority over septic tanks et al. that inject partially treated sewage into groundwater.  In that kind of situation, MOUs are useful to help the employees of each agency know how to deal with borderline situations.

But here we have the Board of Education requiring an unenforceable MOU of each school and division that suffers a denial of accreditation.

Aside: We might also notice that the regulation requires an MOU but leaves the contents to the Board’s discretion.  Thus, if the resulting MOU actually required anything, it probably would be unlawful.


The Board’s boilerplate MOU is ridiculous on its face. 

The foolishness begins in the very first section of the MOU (copy kindly provided by VDOE’s Chuck Pyle):

I. Requirements

BLANK Public Schools will comply with all requirements included in the Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia (SOA).

A copy of the SOA requirements for schools rated Accreditation Denied is located at the following link: .

Both the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and BLANK Public Schools should ensure that program activities are conducted in compliance with all applicable federal laws, rules, and regulations.

The first requirement of the MOU is that the school or division promise to comply with the law!!!

It’s difficult to discuss this kind of nonsense without resorting to obscenities.  Here we have a school or division that the Board says is violating the law and the Board’s first remedy is that the violator make an unenforceable promise to comply with the law.

But wait!  It gets worse:

The MOU then says that VDOE and the school/division “should ensure that program activities” are lawful. 

Here, in a public record, the Board of Education says that VDOE and the school/division that is the subject of an enforcement action “should” act in compliance with the law.  

Never mind the meaningless redundancy of the earlier empty promise to comply with the law.  This “should” mandate is too week to even be redundant.  It is hollow, preposterous babble.

There is a simple explanation for all this frivolity:  The Board does not prescribe an actual remedy because it doesn’t know (or is unwilling to say) what the judge should require the unaccredited school to do.  That is, the Board knows it would be futile to sue.

Your $22.3 million tax dollars per year at “work.”


Preview of coming attraction: The second sentence of Part I of the MOU leads, after some thrashing about, to a regulation.  In typical educrat fashion, that regulation says much about inputs (MOUs and plans and reports and management reviews and turnaround specialists) but says nothing about obtaining an output, such as accreditation.  And, for sure, the regulation is silent about accountability for any (the inevitable?) failure.

Stay tuned . . .

Accreditation Theater of the Absurd

The Board of Education has deliberately created a problem it does not know how to solve.  But that “problem” will keep it and its minions busy.  Indeed, the sterile, ballooning bureaucratic exercise might even justify a budget increase.

Some background:

The Board has an elaborate and opaque system for “accrediting” Virginia schools and school divisions. 

The schools that fail to meet the Board’s standards can be “reconstituted” or just denied accreditation.  Schools being reconstituted operate under improvement plans approved by the Board.  Schools denied accreditation operate under corrective action plans and MOUs (Memoranda of Understanding, which is bureaucratese for unenforceable agreements) with the Board.

The plans and MOUs generated by this process have provided busywork for bureaucrats but have been ineffective to fix bad schools. 

Petersburg, for example, has been operating under MOUs since at least 2004 (video of 9/21/16 at 1:48:30) .  Here, as a paradigm of the Board’s ineptitude, is the history of Petersburg’s Peabody Middle School:



Over a decade of state supervision has left Peabody and, indeed, the Petersburg division languishing in failure.


(This failure is the ugly cousin of the Board’s money and effort squandered on “priority” schools.)

The Board’s record of failure tells us that its remedies for broken schools are ineffectual.  But we don’t have to rely on inference:  In September of this year, the Board members generally admitted (video of 9/21/16 at 1:48:30 et seq.) that they do not know how to fix the awful schools in Petersburg and elsewhere.

A few years ago, not content with being unable to cure the failing schools it already had, the Board set out to generate some more failure.  Sure enough, the new, tougher, math tests in 2012 and new English and Science tests in 2013 clobbered the pass rates statewide.


And in Richmond.


The three year rolling average “adjustment” to the accreditation ratings slowed the effect of these score drops but the accreditation rates soon followed the scores.


All of this generated an Everest of paperwork for the Department of Education and for the affected schools and divisions.  Unfortunately, there’s no sign that all this newly concocted activity accomplished anything useful.

Indeed, the bad schools already were scoring poorly on the SOLs.  For example:


Note: Grades 6-8, but not EOC, pass rates.

It didn’t take new tests to ferret those schools out.

When we look at outside evaluations of Virginia’s schools we do not see the ups and (mostly) downs so evident in the SOLs and accreditations.  Here, for example are the NAEP 4th grade reading and math scores for Virginia, by year.



And here are the 8th grade data.



These scores tell us that Virginia schools, on average, have held steady or improved slightly over the years.

The SAT scores paint much the same picture.



Yet the Board of Education would have us think that Richmond’s performance fell by nearly 70% and Petersburg’s sank yet lower by 15% since 2010 and that the “remedy” for this artificial problem is for these divisions to submit plans and reports to the Board of Education that does not know how to improve their performance.

There is a conclusive measure of the State’s failure here: The Board’s last annual report (pdf at 22) asserts: “Board members continue to perceive a lack of statutory authority to require the most effective actions by local school systems. That remains the purview, under the Code of Virginia, of the local school board.”  Yet they can fire a Superintendent who does not toe their line.  Even more to the point, the Board has the authority to sue to compel compliance with the Standards of Quality.  Trouble is, to get a remedy the Board would have to tell the judge what a school or division must do to meet the standards.  The Board’s record of failure and its admissions (video of 9/21/16 at 1:48:30 et seq.) reveal that it does not know what to tell the judge.

Beyond question, Virginia has some awful schools.  Beyond question, those schools need to be fixed.  These data suggest that the Board of Education should go try to find something useful to do and leave Petersburg (and Richmond and Norfolk and . . . ) to fixing those awful schools, not implementing “plans” that only generate futile paperwork for the bureaucrats in the 14th St. Office Building.

The Board already is spending some portion of a $92 million budget on this charade.  They couldn’t do a worse job (and just just might help some schools) (and surely would be more honest) if they just gave the money they are wasting to Petersburg et al. to hire decent principals.

Your tax dollars at “work.”

The Indifferent Leading the Inept

As we have seen, Woodville is one – perhaps the worst – of twelve Richmond schools that flunked accreditation for a third year running and applied for “reconstituted” status.

Before we turn to the Woodville application, here is a summary of Woodville’s performance:



  • The “All” entries refer to all the tests on the selected subject:  In the graph above, reading at all the elementary grade levels tested, grades 3-5.
  • These are pass rates, not the inflated accreditation rates.



The regulation at 8VAC20-131-315.C tells us:

[A] local school board may choose to reconstitute a school rated Accreditation Denied and apply to the Board of Education for a rating of Partially Accredited: Reconstituted School. The application shall outline specific responses that address all areas of deficiency that resulted in the Accreditation Denied rating . . .

Woodville’s application can be found in the agenda for the Sept. 22, 2016 meeting of the Board of Education.  It provides some basic data:


See the note below regarding that 93%.

The application also provides some Virginia Studies scores (probably accreditation scores) that my spreadsheet did not:


We saw earlier that 74% of the Woodville teachers were rated “proficient” and 26%, “needs improvement” in 2016.  So this school suffers one of the worst pass rates in Virginia but the Principal tells us that three quarters of the teachers are “proficient.”

That Principal has one year of experience as a principal.

The application proposes reconstitution in the areas of governance, instructional program, and staff.

Governance:  Woodville will add a administrative dean to the current Principal and two assistants.  The rationale:

The administrator’s (sic) ability to monitor and support teachers will increase as administrative duties will be equitably distributed.  All administrators will be tasked with the daily monitoring of instructional practices . . .   Administrators will increase formal and informal observations by at least 50%.

Aside from the problem with the English of these folks who supervise the teaching of English to our children, we have the fundamental issue: Instead of replacing the bureaucrats (and teachers) who led Woodville into the subbasement of failure, they propose to add a new bureaucrat and “increase . . . observations”  by the “leaders” who have demonstrated their incompetence.

And, most important: There’s no accountability in here for anybody.  They’re going to monitor and support and conduct observations but with no standards of performance for themselves or the monitored.  

Instructional Program, Reading:  The application tells us that many teachers now use the Benchmark Literacy Reading Program.  Woodville will implement it “with fidelity” this year, albeit they don’t say how the previous use has failed to be faithful or whether this year’s faithful implementation will include more teachers than used the program before.  More fundamentally, the application doesn’t tell us how many of Woodville’s manifestly incompetent reading teachers will be replaced.

Instructional Program, Math:  The application says:

Currently, the use of the array of math resources provided with the EnVision math program are (sic) inconsistent with many teachers.

Even aside from the problem with subject-verb agreement, it’s hard to know what that sentence means.  The proposed new practice does not shed light on that question:

It will be required that the EnVision math program components and activities be used more consistently during math instruction as it aligns with the outlined curriculum.


  • Will EnVision be used all the time or just more often?
  • Will it be used by all the math teachers or a few more or no more?
  • Is the antecedent of “it” the program or the (plural) components and activities?  In any case, why is the current program not aligned with the curriculum; who is responsible for the lack of alignment; will that person or those persons be fired?
  • So it “will be required.”  Will they assess whether it’s used?  What will happen to math teachers who don’t use it?
  • What will happen to that minority of teachers who were evaluated as needing improvement and most of that majority who, while evaluated as “satisfactory,” plainly can’t teach?
  • Will the “more consistent[]” use just be a bit more consistent or entirely consistent?
  • Why should we think that “more consistent[]” use of the program will, in the hands of incompetent teachers and administrators, improve anything?

Staff, Title I Math Resource Teacher:  The application says:

The Title I Math Resource Teacher was added to our school this year.  Until the 2015-16 school year, we only had one Title I Math Teacher.

The Title I Math Resource Teacher retired at the end of the school year.  We plan to hire a new Title I Math teacher for the upcoming school year.

The only interpretation that makes sense of that mishmash is: “We hired our first Title I Math Resource Teacher in 2015-16.  He/she retired at the end of the year.  We’ll hire a replacement.”  But I wouldn’t bet you a #2 lead pencil on that or any other attempted translation.

Then we have what this Resource Teacher will do:

The . . . Teacher will share the responsibility of supporting, coaching, modeling best practices in math while supporting individual and small groups of students based on weak skills.  Students will reduce the failure rate in the area of math by at least 10%.


  • “Supporting” and “coaching” and “modeling” but not supervising?
  • “Supporting” practices or teachers?
  • “[B]ased on weak skills”:  Whose?
  • “Students” will reduce the failure rate, not the learning imparted by this Resource Teacher or the coached teachers?
  • Given that the former Math Resource Teacher failed to accomplish anything useful, why should we think this one will perform differently?
  • Will they do nothing more about retraining and nothing at all about replacing their cadre of awful teachers?

Staff, PBIS Coach:  (The Web site says that the theme of  Positive Behavioral Interventions & Support is “teaching behavioral expectations in the same manner as any core curriculum subject.”)

The school added a PBIS coach near the end of the 2016 year.  They propose to keep that coach and create “a more positive climate and environment” and reduce suspensions by 20%.

Again, no discussion of why more inputs will improve the grossly deficient output.  And no discussion of retraining or replacing ineffective teachers.

Family Engagement:  The application provides a page and a half of “Activit[ies]” to involve parents and “Impact[s]” of that involvement without discussing how the school intends to lure the parents into participating in the activities.

Closing Rationale . . .:  Woodville’s peroration claims a 5% reading increase and an 11% math increase from “2015/16 to 2016/17” (presumably accreditation years; testing years are one year earlier).  In fact, for the 2015 to 2016 school years, the reading pass rate increased 4.7% (to 33.2%) and the math rate, 8.9% (to 38.5%).  At those rates of increase, Woodville would be accredited for reading based on the 2025 testing and for math, 2021.

Woodville projects English score increases to 55 in 2020 (accreditation year, based on the 2019 testing) and math increases that year to 60.

Facial Insufficiency:  Never mind the incompetent use of the Mother Tongue by people who purport to teach English to our children.  Never mind the confused and vacuous proposals that fail to deal with the incompetent teachers and administrators who sank Woodville into a quagmire of failure.  Never mind the absence of any kind of accountability.  The application is defective on its face:

The regulation is not a marvel of specificity as to the requirements for reconstituted status:

The application shall outline specific responses that address all areas of deficiency that resulted in the Accreditation Denied rating . . .

The regulation nonetheless provides:

The school will revert to a status of Accreditation Denied if it fails to meet the requirements to be rated Fully Accredited by the end of the three-year term. . .

Yet Woodville proposes to miss the standard for English accreditation by twenty points and the math requirement by ten at the end of the three year reconstitution period.  Woodville thus proposes to “address” its failure to be accredited by failing to be accredited.

The Chairman of our School Board embarrassed himself by signing this thing.  The Secretary of Education embarrassed himself by forwarding it to the State Board for action. 

Then we have the State Board: The video of the Sept. 22 meeting tells us (start at 1:48):

  • These applications have been reviewed by a subcommittee (1:48:56);
  • The plans were prepared in collaboration with VDOE (1:51); and
  • The federal requirement that the principal of the failed school be replaced is going away (1:53).

At 1:51:50 of the video, staff recommended that the Board “receive” the requests “for first review.”  The video does not show a vote on that recommendation (at least not there or immediately thereafter).  We’ll see what the minutes say.

To the point, this embarrassing application was created in “collaboration” with VDOE and it has survived review by a subcommittee (presumably of the Board).  We’ll see whether the Board affirms all this fecklessness by a final action in October.


Note:  The 93% Free and Reduced Lunch rate reported above looks in fact to be the Economically Disadvantaged rate.

93% certainly is high.  And we know that academic performance decreases with increasing poverty.  But poverty tells only part of the story.

Here are the Richmond elementary school data for the 2016 school year:


Woodville is the red circle.  And it is the low scoring outlier.  The outliers in the other direction are:

Doubtless poverty makes the job more challenging at Woodville.  But poverty is not the explanation for Woodville’s awful performance.


Next up: An even larger Another embarrassment (if that were possible): Blackwell.