The Board of “Education” Wants to Help Richmond the Way It Has Helped Petersburg

For years, the mantra to distract attention from Richmond’s failed schools has been, “We beat Petersburg.”

On the 2018 SOL pass rates, we can say it again as to all five subjects and the five subject average: Petersburg has the worst SOL pass rates in the state.  Richmond is only second worst.

Specifically: Here are the bottom 20 (or more) divisions in each subject.  I’ve highlighted the peer jurisdictions in red and, as a courtesy to my readers there (two is more than none!), I’ve also highlighted Charles City and Lynchburg.

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Petersburg has been operating under Memoranda of Understanding (i.e., edicts of the Board of “Education”) since at least 2004.

As I have pointed out, the Board of “Education” is a paper tiger.  It has the power to sue to compel compliance with the Standards of Quality.  It has never done so.  It has, instead, persisted with a failed Memorandum of Understanding process that it knows does not work.

There is a simple explanation for this counterproductive behavior:

If it were to sue, the Board would have to tell the judge what Petersburg must do to fix the schools.  The Board cannot do this because it does not know (Sept. 21, 2016 video starting at 1:48) how to fix those schools.  That is, the Board knows it would be futile to sue (and even more embarrassing than its present failure).

So now the Board has brought the same disruptive, expensive, and futile process to Richmond with, in this first year, the inevitable absence of any measurable benefit to the students.

On the evidence of fourteen years of sterile (if not destructive) State supervision of Petersburg and a fruitless year of State supervision of Richmond, RPS would be wise to tell the Board of “Education” to take its Memorandum of Understanding and go away.

Petersburg: Paradigm of VBOE Incompetence

The Petersburg schools have been operating under Memoranda of Understanding (“MOUs”) of the Board of “Education” since at least 2004.

The current MOU and associated “Plan” are long on inputs but they fail to measure or demand adequate outputs.  As to the purpose of any school (learning!), there is no plan and no accountability. 

In light of this fecklessness, it cannot be surprising that the fourteen year history of Board of “Education” dealings with Petersburg is a tale of unremitting failure.

Data

I have asked Petersburg for clarification of the recent SOL data but have received no response.  So we’ll have to try to figure things out from the public record.

Note added on 8/26:  I sent the P’Burg inquiry to the wrong email address.  The estimable Leigh Ann McKelway saw the post and today sent the following:

The last year Peabody Middle was open was 2016-17. In 2017-18 we moved the middle school to the building that previously was named Vernon Johns Junior High and we renamed it Vernon Johns Middle.

Vernon Johns Junior High’s last year was 2015-16 (I think). During the 2016-17 school year, the Vernon Johns building was empty.

To start, here are the reading pass rates since the deployment of the new tests in 2013:

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The 2017 datum for A.P. Hill is missing because the school was caught cheating that year. 

Peabody Middle data are missing for 2018; Vernon Johns Junior data are missing for 2017 and ‘18; Vernon Johns Middle data start in 2018.  The current directory of Petersburg schools lists only one middle school, Johns Middle.  It looks like Peabody and Johns Junior have been merged into Johns Middle.  No telling about the 2017 data for Johns Junior.

(BTW: The first three elementary schools in this list have now been renamed to deConfederatize them; it looks like Walnut Hill got caught up in the process.  All four elementary school names in these data will be obsolete next year.)

Here are those data on a graph.

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Notice the (temporary) benefits of cheating at Hill (the red line).  And notice the bottom-of-the-barrel pass rate there once they had to test honestly.

And notice that very nearly half of the students tested at Lee, Johns Middle, and Hill failed this year.

Except for the high school in 2013, Walnut Hill in 2016 and ‘17, and Hill before it got caught, none of these data meets the 75% benchmark for English accreditation.  Even more to the point, there’s no indication here of improvement in these ninth through fourteenth years of state oversight.

The math data paint a similar picture.

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The high school enjoyed two years above the 70% accreditation benchmark; Walnut Hill managed four but is headed in the wrong direction.  All the others were, and are, mired in failure with no sign of improvement.

Indeed, more than half of the students tested at Hill, Lee, and Johns Middle flunked the tests.

As to Petersburg, the Board of “Education” has failed, miserably and at length, to discharge its duty of “general supervision of the public school system.”

Discussion

Please visit this page for a discussion of the several reasons that the MOU process is a terrible idea, both as to strategy and tactics.  Those concerns aside, the data above demonstrate that the process has been a wordy and persistent failure as to Petersburg.

The Board of “Education” can sue to compel compliance with the Standards of Quality.  They have not done so.  They have instead persisted with this failed process that they know does not work.

There is a simple explanation for all this counterproductive behavior:

If it were to sue, the Board would have to tell the judge what Petersburg must do to fix the schools.  The Board cannot do this because it does not know (Sept. 21, 2016 video starting at 1:48) how to fix those schools.  That is, the Board knows it would be futile to sue (and even more embarrassing than its present failure).

So now the Board has brought the same disruptive, expensive, and futile process to Richmond with, in this first year, the inevitable absence of any measurable benefit to the students.

Forty point six million of your tax dollars at “work.”

Marinating in Failure

The 2018 SOL pass rates are up on the VDOE Web site.

Richmond this year posted a one point gain in the average reading pass rate and a repeat in science but declines otherwise.

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In terms of a graph:

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Recalling that the accreditation benchmarks are 75 in English and 70 otherwise, this is a picture of abiding failure to properly educate Richmond’s schoolchildren.

With a 1 point gain in the reading pass rate, Richmond was third from the last among divisions, after a tie for second last year (not counting the School for the Deaf and Blind).

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Notwithstanding the 3 point drop in Richmond’s writing pass rate from last year, Petersburg’s sixteen point(!) decrease brought Richmond up from last place to second from the bottom.

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In history & social science, Richmond’s 5 point drop left it next to last, again.

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The 2 point slide in the math rate was small enough, in light of even larger declines elsewhere, to bring Richmond up from second to fourth from the bottom.

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Finally, the repeat pass rate in science was enough to leave Richmond in a tie for second from last, after a second place finish last year.

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I’ll have more to say later about the relationship between this ongoing disaster and the State’s (predictably futile) intrusion into the Richmond school system.

Cheating: Ignoring the Obvious

In the summer of 2017, VDOE investigated an allegation of cheating at A.P. Hill Elementary School in Petersburg.  As a result, Petersburg fired “several” school employees and the Board of Education withheld accreditation of the school “due to testing irregularities.” (pdf at 137)

A cursory look at the SOL pass rates for A.P. Hill raises the question why it took a “tip” to cause VDOE to investigate.

Let’s start with the 3d grade reading pass rates for Hill and the state for both the disabled and non-disabled populations:

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VDOE’s suppression rules hide all of Hill’s disabled pass rates but the one for 2015; that datum is well above the state average.  The non-disabled data tell the tale, however: Between 2013 and 2016, Hill went from a failing pass rate (the accreditation level for reading is 75) to matching the state average for two consecutive years.

The fourth grade data are even more remarkable.

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The fifth grade numbers show both another tremendous increase in the non-disabled rate and one extraordinary datum for the disabled students.

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The math data tell much the same story:

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An alert Superintendent in Petersburg or a competent VDOE would have taken a hard look at that school in 2015. 

There are at least two explanations for what actually happened:

  • “Alert Superintendent in Petersburg” and “competent VDOE” are oxymoronic (we know that is the case for VDOE); or
  • The Superintendent and/or VDOE were/was too happy with those unbelievable numbers to contemplate the obvious explanation.

Closer to home, we’ve seen the same behavior by both our (former) Superintendent and VDOE as to Carver Elementary.  Neither bothered to look behind the phenomenal increases in test scores there, e.g.,

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Unfortunately, Carver is just the tip of an iceberg of uninvestigated, unbelievable pass rate increases in Richmond.  For example:

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Or see Ginter Park, where, as with Fairfield, the obvious VGLA abuse prior to the new tests in 2012 (math) and 2013 (reading) serves as a preview of what has happened more recently:

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That off-scale 2012 disabled datum is a 19% pass rate.  The plummet from the 100% pass rates reported in the previous two years is an example of what can happen when VDOE eliminates the test a school was using to cheat.  But, as you can see, the school found another way to improve the scores.

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We’ll see whether our new Superintendent looks into the remarkable score increases at these and other schools.

ASIDE: We learn from the RT-D that our Superintendent is concerned about the colors of graduation robes and hats.  We can hope most fervently that the colors are a smokescreen to keep the press busy while he looks at the real, massive problems in Richmond’s public schools.

For sure, we’ll all attend our own funerals before VDOE undertakes a systematic look at this issue.

Your tax dollars at “work.”

Showing Some Spine

Last night the Richmond School Board approved a proposed revision of the (stupid, obnoxious, wordy, and meaningless) Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) demanded by the State.

Even after the proposed revisions, the result is a cloud of bureaucratic effluvia.  But this version is less obnoxious.

It will be interesting to see how the state responds.

Note: MOU draft replaced with updated version, 7/18, 15:28.

Bureaucracy Über Alles

The Division-Level Academic Review of Richmond Public Schools
Is a Fallow Heap of Bureaucratic Nonsense

In July, 2016, our (now ex-) Superintendent “indicated” that a division-level academic review of the Richmond schools was in order.  In November, the Board of Education (VBOE) voted (pdf at 365) to approve that review.

In June of this year, VBOE performed a “First Review of Division-Level Memorandum of Understanding for Richmond city Public Schools.”  That Memorandum is a monument to bureaucratic nonsense but does not report the results of the review.

It turns out that the Department of Education (VDOE) completed the division-level review in March but the results remained closeted until Katy Evans of the Times-Dispatch pried them loose on June 12 with a Freedom of Information Act request. 

Evans’ story about the Review includes the Score Sheet and the “Review Tool.”  Evans reports, inter alia: “Richmond scored lowest on leadership and governance and human resources tools.  The division lost many points because its latest strategic plan, which expired in 2015, lacked a vision statement.”

In fact, only seventeen of forty-four Richmond schools are fully accredited.  Richmond had the lowest reading and second-lowest math pass rates in the state on the 2016 SOLs.  Yet VDOE marks the division down for leadership, governance, human resources, and and a stale vision statement.  Never mind the lousy teaching.

The Score Sheet illuminates this skewed approach: Only one of twenty-seven items even mentions student achievement.  None of the six “Human Resource” items (and none of the other twenty-one items) mentions teaching effectiveness.

Indeed, you can parse the Score Sheet (or, if you have a really high tolerance level for bureaucratic excess, the “Tool”) and seek in vain evaluations of what the kids are or are not learning, and why. 

To the contrary, the review is designed to camouflage the only real performance datum we have, the SOL pass rate.  Thus, the “Student Achievement” item is an average of five elements, only one of which is a measure of student performance.

On a scale of zero to three, where zero and one are failing, Richmond receives a “0” for student “Outcomes” (no surprise there), a “1” for “Student achievement Expectations,” a “1” for “Curriculum Alignment,” a “1” for “Instructional Leadership,” and a “3” for “Support for Instructional Leadership.”

The “Student Achievement” score for Richmond thus is 1.2, not zero!  The “3” for leadership “support” boosts the average from an actual SOL performance of zero to a misleading bureaucratic fiction of 1.2. 

This avoidance of the the important but difficult (measuring and improving teaching performance) and embrace of the trivial but easy (counting beans) should not come as a surprise.  The VBOE members have admitted that they do not know how to fix broken school systems (Sept. 21, 2016 video starting at 1:48).

As well, the “Tool” at p. 77 tells us that VDOE’s own standards for teacher evaluation are meaningless:  The five criteria for “Functional Implementation” (don’t you just love bureaucratese!) include “Complies with the VDOE Standards for Teacher Evaluation, Principal Evaluation, and Superintendent Evaluation.”  VDOE tells us that Richmond meets this criterion.  Two items later in the list, we see that Richmond does not use “meaningful measures of student achievement, where applicable, as a part of the employee evaluation process.”

This tells us two things:

  1. Richmond teachers are not evaluated on whether their students are learning the material (see distressing examples of this here), and
  2. Richmond can meet VDOE standards for teacher evaluation without evaluating teachers on whether their students are learning the material

I could go on and on but the point is clear:  The “Review” is a bureaucratic effluvium that carefully avoids the fundamental question of what Richmond must do to produce students who know how to read, write, and reckon.

Your tax dollars at “work.”

Plan? What Plan?

We have seen that, having suffered the lowest average reading pass rate and the second lowest math pass rate in Virginia, Richmond this year “requested” a “division-level academic review.”

§ 22.1-253.13:3.A
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When the Board of Education determines through the school academic review process that the failure of schools within a division to achieve full accreditation status is related to division-level failure to implement the Standards of Quality or other division-level action or inaction, the Board may require a division-level academic review. After the conduct of such review and within the time specified by the Board of Education, each school board shall submit to the Board for approval a corrective action plan, consistent with criteria established by the Board setting forth specific actions and a schedule designed to ensure that schools within its school division achieve full accreditation status.

On November 17, 2016, the Board of Education approved the request.  The minute is silent as to the “time specified” for the review.  The agenda item for that meeting provides an expectation (that was not submitted to the Board for approval) but no deadline:

A division-level Memorandum of Understanding and Corrective Action Plan are expected to come before the Virginia Board of Education by June 22, 2017.

Today (May 8, 2017), Richmond replied to my Freedom of Information Act request regarding the Plan:

  • They do not have a suggested model or list of items or format for the Plan from VDOE;
  • They have no schedule for conducting the division level review;
  • They have no plan or schedule for obtaining the required public input; and
  • The do have a draft “template [that] has not been vetted with RPS administration nor has it been presented to the State Board of Ed[ucation].”

One need not suffer beyond the first few elements in the template to see that it is not a Plan.  It is a list of items to go into a Plan. 

For example, the “Essential Action[s]” on the “Academics and Student Success” page include:

  • Create, implement, and monitor a comprehensive plan to ensure alignment between the written, taught, and tested curriculum.
  • Develop and implement a plan for division leadership to conduct instructional walkthroughs at all schools, analyze data collected on walkthroughs, and use the data to make decisions on how to support schools.
  • Develop, implement, and monitor programs for students with limited English proficiency compliant with state requirements.

And on and on.

Thus, we see that, in the 172 days since November 17, Richmond has done nothing but create a laundry list of issues to go into a Plan.  If they somehow manage to “vet [this or some other document] with RPS administration” and subject it to public comment and have it approved by the School Board, all by June 22, they still will have nothing more than a plan to create a Plan.

But, what the heck!  The Board of “Education” that is vested with “supervision of the public school system” does not know how to fix bad schools.  Indeed, they admit it (Sept. 21, 2016 video starting at 1:48).

It is merely an outrage that we are being taxed to support this sterile (and lethargic) bureaucratic exercise. It is something beyond an abomination that, in the meantime, Richmond continues to victimize many of its schoolchildren.

Graduate or Not

When looking at the cohort graduation rates, I tend to look at the 4 year rate.  After all, four years is the normal time in high school.

The helpful reports on the VDOE Web page also include five and six year data.  For the class of 2016 (cohort of 2012-13) there can only be a four year report.  For the class of 2015 (cohort of 2011-12), however, the extra year opens the door to calculation of both a four and a five year rate.

So I pulled the Class of 2015 data.  The rates below are the actual (standard and advanced diploma) rates, not VDOE’s inflated “on time” numbers.

For a start, here is a chart of the division five year vs. four year graduation rates.

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Richmond is the gold square (sigh!).  The red diamonds are, from the left, poor Petersburg (notwithstanding over twelve years of “help” from the State Board of “Education”) and the peer cities of Norfolk, Hampton, and Newport News.

The R-squared of 98% tells us that the two rates correlate: Divisions with a high four year rate have high five year rates and those with low, low (see Petersburg and – help us, Lord! – Richmond). 

Notes on the data:

  • Highland County is omitted.  They had only eleven in the cohort and fewer than the cutoff (ten) in each category (VDOE suppresses data where there are <10 students).
  • In many cases, the five and six year cohort sizes are different, apparently reflecting cohort members who leave or return during the fifth year.  Thus, Cumberland County shows a 1.6% decrease in the five year rate, reflecting the same numbers of diplomas but an additional two students in the five year cohort.
  • That sad point between Petersburg and Richmond is Covington.
  • The two divisions at the upper right are Falls Church and West Point.
  • The Richmond rates were 70.6% and 73.1%.  Both are appallingly low.  The (welcome) increase comes from thirty-eight kids who did not get diplomas in four years but now have them.

Here is the breakout of the Richmond data.

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I think that last entry is “Economically Disadvantaged anytime.”

And here are the division data.

4 year 5 year
Division Cohort Adv. Std. Cohort Adv. Std. 4 Year 5 Year Difference
Accomack County 328 166 114 326 166 115 85.4% 86.2% 0.83% 1
Albemarle County 996 646 264 997 648 270 91.4% 92.1% 0.71% 8
Alexandria City 853 320 318 851 323 321 74.8% 75.7% 0.88% 6
Alleghany County 231 106 86 232 106 90 83.1% 84.5% 1.37% 4
Amelia County 145 58 67 145 58 67 86.2% 86.2% 0.00% 0
Amherst County 307 118 139 306 118 143 83.7% 85.3% 1.58% 4
Appomattox County 184 103 64 184 103 65 90.8% 91.3% 0.54% 1
Arlington County 1440 916 357 1444 917 371 88.4% 89.2% 0.79% 15
Augusta County 810 416 298 810 416 307 88.1% 89.3% 1.11% 9
Bath County 46 24 12 45 24 12 78.3% 80.0% 1.74% 0
Bedford County 835 402 307 833 402 320 84.9% 86.7% 1.76% 13
Bland County 81 19 53 81 19 53 88.9% 88.9% 0.00% 0
Botetourt County 402 229 144 402 229 145 92.8% 93.0% 0.25% 1
Bristol City 167 60 71 167 60 71 78.4% 78.4% 0.00% 0
Brunswick County 160 29 93 160 29 97 76.3% 78.8% 2.50% 4
Buchanan County 268 82 150 268 82 150 86.6% 86.6% 0.00% 0
Buckingham County 154 72 62 154 72 64 87.0% 88.3% 1.30% 2
Buena Vista City 95 36 39 95 36 40 78.9% 80.0% 1.05% 1
Campbell County 654 295 263 652 295 265 85.3% 85.9% 0.57% 2
Caroline County 292 90 139 294 90 148 78.4% 81.0% 2.53% 9
Carroll County 291 134 117 290 134 121 86.3% 87.9% 1.68% 4
Charles City County 57 20 29 57 20 30 86.0% 87.7% 1.75% 1
Charlotte County 177 89 56 178 90 57 81.9% 82.6% 0.66% 2
Charlottesville City 305 130 108 304 130 112 78.0% 79.6% 1.57% 4
Chesapeake City 3156 1824 950 3159 1827 970 87.9% 88.5% 0.64% 23
Chesterfield County 4710 2627 1560 4708 2629 1602 88.9% 89.9% 0.97% 44
Clarke County 167 105 52 166 105 54 94.0% 95.8% 1.77% 2
Colonial Beach 42 21 17 42 21 17 90.5% 90.5% 0.00% 0
Colonial Heights City 214 124 58 214 124 60 85.0% 86.0% 0.93% 2
Covington City 60 24 18 60 25 18 70.0% 71.7% 1.67% 1
Craig County 56 19 29 55 19 29 85.7% 87.3% 1.56% 0
Culpeper County 553 282 203 553 282 203 87.7% 87.7% 0.00% 0
Cumberland County 111 62 38 113 62 38 90.1% 88.5% -1.59% 0
Danville City 444 132 198 442 133 205 74.3% 76.5% 2.15% 8
Dickenson County 165 39 91 165 39 93 78.8% 80.0% 1.21% 2
Dinwiddie County 349 110 155 351 111 165 75.9% 78.6% 2.70% 11
Essex County 118 39 59 118 39 59 83.1% 83.1% 0.00% 0
Fairfax County 13760 8672 3674 13766 8682 3777 89.7% 90.5% 0.78% 113
Falls Church City 168 138 26 167 139 26 97.6% 98.8% 1.18% 1
Fauquier County 915 530 288 911 532 302 89.4% 91.5% 2.15% 16
Floyd County 135 62 60 135 62 60 90.4% 90.4% 0.00% 0
Fluvanna County 306 151 123 305 151 126 89.5% 90.8% 1.28% 3
Franklin City 79 33 27 78 33 28 75.9% 78.2% 2.26% 1
Franklin County 558 242 224 555 242 229 83.5% 84.9% 1.35% 5
Frederick County 995 510 384 997 510 388 89.8% 90.1% 0.22% 4
Fredericksburg City 232 116 69 233 116 76 79.7% 82.4% 2.66% 7
Galax City 103 52 38 103 52 39 87.4% 88.3% 0.97% 1
Giles County 213 47 131 212 47 133 83.6% 84.9% 1.34% 2
Gloucester County 415 175 202 417 175 208 90.8% 91.8% 1.00% 6
Goochland County 187 111 62 188 111 63 92.5% 92.6% 0.04% 1
Grayson County 152 78 46 150 78 47 81.6% 83.3% 1.75% 1
Greene County 211 126 75 211 126 76 95.3% 95.7% 0.47% 1
Greensville County 169 62 75 169 62 76 81.1% 81.7% 0.59% 1
Halifax County 406 142 178 406 142 180 78.8% 79.3% 0.49% 2
Hampton City 1545 564 717 1545 564 747 82.9% 84.9% 1.94% 30
Hanover County 1417 871 431 1417 871 434 91.9% 92.1% 0.21% 3
Harrisonburg City 343 180 114 343 180 122 85.7% 88.0% 2.33% 8
Henrico County 3682 1806 1335 3675 1809 1377 85.3% 86.7% 1.39% 45
Henry County 494 215 200 494 215 206 84.0% 85.2% 1.21% 6
Hopewell City 293 97 127 290 97 134 76.5% 79.7% 3.20% 7
Isle of Wight County 438 233 159 440 233 163 89.5% 90.0% 0.50% 4
King George County 317 174 121 316 174 123 93.1% 94.0% 0.93% 2
King William County 162 79 57 162 79 60 84.0% 85.8% 1.85% 3
King and Queen County 46 21 19 46 21 20 87.0% 89.1% 2.17% 1
Lancaster County 82 36 31 82 36 32 81.7% 82.9% 1.22% 1
Lee County 265 60 139 265 60 143 75.1% 76.6% 1.51% 4
Loudoun County 4793 3424 1092 4791 3430 1110 94.2% 94.8% 0.54% 24
Louisa County 343 177 115 343 177 118 85.1% 86.0% 0.87% 3
Lunenburg County 105 42 43 106 42 43 81.0% 80.2% -0.76% 0
Lynchburg City 636 246 247 637 246 253 77.5% 78.3% 0.82% 6
Madison County 146 83 48 145 83 49 89.7% 91.0% 1.31% 1
Manassas City 517 212 214 519 212 220 82.4% 83.2% 0.84% 6
Manassas Park City 207 77 99 207 77 100 85.0% 85.5% 0.48% 1
Martinsville City 157 55 65 156 55 69 76.4% 79.5% 3.05% 4
Mathews County 114 54 44 114 54 45 86.0% 86.8% 0.88% 1
Mecklenburg County 347 143 162 347 143 163 87.9% 88.2% 0.29% 1
Middlesex County 95 51 36 95 51 36 91.6% 91.6% 0.00% 0
Montgomery County 732 361 263 731 361 265 85.2% 85.6% 0.39% 2
Nelson County 143 65 47 143 65 47 78.3% 78.3% 0.00% 0
New Kent County 245 121 101 245 121 102 90.6% 91.0% 0.41% 1
Newport News City 1876 726 894 1852 726 925 86.4% 89.1% 2.79% 31
Norfolk City 1747 653 693 1720 654 743 77.0% 81.2% 4.17% 51
Northampton County 96 35 39 96 35 39 77.1% 77.1% 0.00% 0
Northumberland County 109 51 48 109 51 48 90.8% 90.8% 0.00% 0
Norton City 58 26 29 59 26 31 94.8% 96.6% 1.78% 2
Nottoway County 173 63 74 173 63 78 79.2% 81.5% 2.31% 4
Orange County 356 156 153 358 157 161 86.8% 88.8% 2.03% 9
Page County 274 135 128 274 135 128 96.0% 96.0% 0.00% 0
Patrick County 198 85 85 198 85 88 85.9% 87.4% 1.52% 3
Petersburg City 289 56 116 286 56 121 59.5% 61.9% 2.37% 5
Pittsylvania County 730 312 329 729 312 337 87.8% 89.0% 1.22% 8
Poquoson City 193 136 45 194 136 45 93.8% 93.3% -0.48% 0
Portsmouth City 930 309 449 933 309 463 81.5% 82.7% 1.24% 14
Powhatan County 339 197 112 339 198 114 91.2% 92.0% 0.88% 3
Prince Edward County 175 54 86 175 55 87 80.0% 81.1% 1.14% 2
Prince George County 478 189 206 476 193 209 82.6% 84.5% 1.82% 7
Prince William County 6187 2945 2477 6185 2947 2542 87.6% 88.7% 1.11% 67
Pulaski County 326 137 123 325 137 126 79.8% 80.9% 1.17% 3
Radford City 121 50 55 122 50 56 86.8% 86.9% 0.11% 1
Rappahannock County 73 37 29 74 37 30 90.4% 90.5% 0.13% 1
Richmond City 1420 384 619 1425 385 656 70.6% 73.1% 2.42% 38
Richmond County 82 42 32 81 42 32 90.2% 91.4% 1.11% 0
Roanoke City 882 298 384 882 299 399 77.3% 79.1% 1.81% 16
Roanoke County 1118 591 431 1119 591 438 91.4% 92.0% 0.54% 7
Rockbridge County 251 115 104 250 116 105 87.3% 88.4% 1.15% 2
Rockingham County 878 394 383 879 394 394 88.5% 89.6% 1.15% 11
Russell County 320 109 174 320 109 174 88.4% 88.4% 0.00% 0
Salem City 345 207 108 345 207 108 91.3% 91.3% 0.00% 0
Scott County 269 136 106 269 136 107 90.0% 90.3% 0.37% 1
Shenandoah County 487 254 188 487 254 189 90.8% 91.0% 0.21% 1
Smyth County 344 133 173 344 133 175 89.0% 89.5% 0.58% 2
Southampton County 194 73 88 194 73 92 83.0% 85.1% 2.06% 4
Spotsylvania County 1844 987 643 1843 988 652 88.4% 89.0% 0.59% 10
Stafford County 2320 1400 714 2320 1401 746 91.1% 92.5% 1.42% 33
Staunton City 189 97 75 189 97 78 91.0% 92.6% 1.59% 3
Suffolk City 1026 441 413 1024 442 425 83.2% 84.7% 1.43% 13
Surry County 78 35 29 77 35 30 82.1% 84.4% 2.36% 1
Sussex County 83 27 35 83 27 36 74.7% 75.9% 1.20% 1
Tazewell County 437 130 201 436 130 207 75.7% 77.3% 1.55% 6
Virginia Beach City 5289 2883 1698 5270 2887 1774 86.6% 88.4% 1.83% 80
Warren County 422 210 161 422 210 166 87.9% 89.1% 1.18% 5
Washington County 519 235 234 519 235 238 90.4% 91.1% 0.77% 4
Waynesboro City 232 94 85 233 94 86 77.2% 77.3% 0.10% 1
West Point 64 43 20 64 43 20 98.4% 98.4% 0.00% 0
Westmoreland County 121 53 44 121 53 44 80.2% 80.2% 0.00% 0
Williamsburg-James City County 860 491 269 860 492 280 88.4% 89.8% 1.40% 12
Winchester City 288 138 113 285 138 114 87.2% 88.4% 1.27% 1
Wise County 438 179 200 439 180 206 86.5% 87.9% 1.40% 7
Wythe County 295 126 133 295 126 137 87.8% 89.2% 1.36% 4
York County 991 621 301 991 621 305 93.0% 93.4% 0.40% 4
Highland County 12 < < 12 < <


Still a Scofflaw?

We have seen that Richmond had the lowest secondary attendance in Virginia last year: 88%.  This happened in a context where Richmond earlier was ignoring the requirements of the state law regarding truancy and the Board of “Education” was ignoring its duty to require Richmond to obey that law.

Inquiring mind wants to know whether all that truancy last year was again exacerbated by Richmond’s defiance of the law:

Subject: Records Request
From: John Butcher
Date: 03/03/2017 08:57 AM
To: Angela Lewis — RPS FOIA

Ms. Lewis,

Please share with me the public records of the Richmond School Board that set out the following data for Richmond Public Schools for the 2015-16 school year:

The number of students with five or more unexcused absences;
The number of five absence truancy plans;
The number of students with six or more unexcused absences;
The number of six absence conferences scheduled;
The number of students with seven or more unexcused absences;
The number of CHINS complaints filed as to students with seven or more unexcused absences;
The number of proceedings instituted against parents of students with seven or more unexcused absences;
The summary of outcomes of the CHINS complaints and/or the proceedings instituted against parents;
The number of students with ten or more unexcused absences;
The number of warning letters sent to parents of students with ten or more unexcused absences.

If the School Board has begun to attend to its duty under Va. Code 22.1-258, there doubtless will be multiple records responsive to each portion of this request.  Please do NOT send me all of those; a single record responsive to each request (or a smaller number of records responding to multiple requests) would be plenty; an email with just the data, without production of the underlying records, would be even better.

With thanks always for your kind and good work,

John

Where Have All the Students Gone?

The 2016 Superintendent’s Annual Report sets out, at Table 8, the elementary and secondary attendance data by division for the year.

Here are the elementary data.

image

The yellow bar is Richmond.  The red bars, from the left, are the peer cities Norfolk, Newport News, and Hampton.

The Richmond elementary datum is merely discouraging.  The secondary attendance is appalling:

image

The yellow again is Richmond.  The red, Norfolk, Hampton, and Newport News.

Va. Code § 22.1-258 requires an attendance plan after the fifth unexcused absence and a conference with the parents after the sixth.  Upon a further absence, the statute requires either a prosecution of the parents or the filing of a CHINS petition against the student.

When I asked RPS for data on compliance with this statute for 2015, they reported 13,046 five-day attendance plans and 61 CHINS petitions.  They had NO RECORD of the number of five, six, or seven day absences and NO RECORD of prosecutions of parents.

We do have some data from earlier years:

image

Of course, our State Board of Education Fecklessness did not fire the Superintendent or sue the School Board over those wholesale violations of a law the State Board is required to enforce.

Your tax dollars at “work.”

Looks like I’ll have to ask RPS for those data for 2016.