Bedden Blew It

Dana Bedden started in Richmond in January, 2014

We can ascribe the awful performance of the Richmond schools that year, and probably the next, to the previous Superintendent who had failed to align the curricula to the new math tests in 2012 and the new English and science tests in 2013.

After that, Bedden gets the credit.  Or the not credit.

The 2017 school year was Bedden’s third full (and last) year in the saddle.

We got a preview of his performance from the “division-level academic review” conducted by VDOE in the spring of 2017.   For the most part, the resulting report is a bloated batch of bureaucratic babble.  Nonetheless, some truth shines through.

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

So, after two+ years of Bedden, the curricula still were not aligned?  And student “outcomes” were zilch?  But the “instructional leadership” was fine?  Please!

Today VDOE released the 2017 SOL results. 

The database with the full (and not rounded) data is not available as I write this.  The summary spreadsheets are available here.

Those spreadsheets give us a measure of Bedden’s performance:

Reading: Second or third lowest pass rate (not counting the school for deaf & blind), up from last place last year but down two points.


Writing: Bottom of the barrel, down from 2d worst last year, despite an eight point gain.


History & Social Sciences: We beat poor Petersburg again with a constant 67% pass rate.


Math: Last year we beat Lancaster; this year, Petersburg, with a pass rate that dropped four points.


Science: Next to last again, beating only Petersburg but with a five point drop in our pass rate.


Five Subject Average: Beat only Petersburg, up from last place last year; our pass rate dropped slightly, theirs more.


Note: These are averages of the five subjects’ pass rates, not of all tests.

It appears that the School Board did well to get rid of Superintendent Bedden. 

Trouble is, now we go part (most?) (all?) of the 2018 school year with an interim Super and the new Super will need at least a couple of years to get any traction.  In the meantime, Richmond’s schoolchildren continue to suffer in our awful schools.

Of course, it could be worse: We could be Petersburg, laboring under Memoranda of Understanding from the Board of Education (that doesn’t know how to fix their schools) for thirteen years and still competing to be the worst school division in Virginia.

I’ll post more Richmond data as they become available.