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2512 George Mason Drive • P.O. Box 6038 Virginia Beach, Virginia 23456-0038   757.263.1000 • 757.263.1240 TDD

Superintendent's Report to the School Board
October 20, 2009

Chairman Edwards, Vice Chairman Bellitto, and members of the Board –

As I noted in last month’s Superintendent’s Report, it is my intention to provide our stakeholders regular updates on our Compass 2015 Strategic Plan for Student Success. In tonight’s report I want to concentrate on our work on Strategic Objective 2 which calls for the implementation of a balanced assessment system that accurately reflects student mastery of 21st century skills. A balanced assessment system is an approach to evaluating student achievement that employs multiple types of assessments or tests, if you will. These could be assessments that focus on performance tasks, essays, multiple choice, project-based work, and other types of samples. The goal of our balanced assessment system is to improve learning during instruction and to measure both core subject mastery and our recently identified 21st century skills. 

Here is where we stand on Strategic Objective 2 — Over the past few weeks, staff and community members have met to start the process of developing a continuum of measures for each of the division’s 21st century skills.  As a reminder, these skills are: critical thinking, creative thinking, problem-solving, information literacy, listening, collaboration, communication (both written and verbal), social responsibility, sustainability, interdependence, and health literacy.  These measures are designed to provide both teachers and students with a clear picture of student behaviors that should be demonstrated at given levels of proficiency ranging from novice to advanced.  The team has already drafted beginning indicators for listening, problem solving, critical thinking, and creative thinking, and members are planning to address soon sustainability, communication, and collaboration. 

In addition, this year Virginia Beach schools will administer the College and Work Readiness Assessment, or CWRA, to a sample of 11th graders from each of its 11 comprehensive high schools. The CWRA assesses students’ abilities to think critically and reason analytically to solve realistic problems. In addition, the division is developing and field testing a CWRA-type assessment for grades 4 and 7 this year. These assessments will follow the same format and assess the same skills as the actual CWRA that will be administered to 11th graders. Students will be evaluated using a rubric that is appropriate for their grade level. Our plan is to assess all fourth-grade and seventh-grade students during next school year and collect and report student results through SchoolNet.

It’s important to note that Virginia Beach is not working in isolation on the challenge of ensuring students are well-equipped for success in today’s world. Recently I participated in a conversation facilitated by Ken Kay, president of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. At this meeting, I had the pleasure of presenting Compass to 2015 to a working group that included the commonwealth’s secretary of education; leadership from the Virginia Department of Education and the University of Virginia; various professional agencies ranging the Virginia Education Association to the Virginia Parent Teacher Association and executives from businesses such as Dell, Intel, Scholastic, and ETS.  Information regarding our strategic plan’s progress was well received, and participants were impressed with how the plan aligned with 21st century outcomes. The working group continued its discussion with a focus on skills to prepare students to be workforce and college ready.  I am pleased to note, for the Partnership of 21st Century Skills, that 14 states have enlisted and signed on, including our neighboring states of West Virginia and North Carolina. The momentum for meaningful change is most certainly building in Virginia.

At the division level, our schools are continuing to support strategic plan objectives and making strides with respect to parent involvement, staff development, and instruction:

  • Cooke Elementary is excited about the response to a new PLC at its school - a parent learning community.  More than 120 parents attended Cooke’s “Parent’s Night Out” event to discuss the schoolwide initiative related to the Habits of the Mind program. This program is designed to foster a mindset of diligence, responsibility, and success among children. Cooke’s gifted resource teacher conducted training on how on parents may incorporate the habits at home, and teachers shared how they are using Habits of the Mind in their classrooms.
  • At First Colonial High School, faculty participated in an on-site staff development program called “Cruising Through the 21st Century: A Technology Conference.” Faculty attended sessions covering topics such as “Wiki Wiki-Wow,” Audacity, and Digital Storytelling. Following the training, they worked collaboratively to create learning plans that incorporated the new technology they learned.
  • Administrators at Linkhorn Park Elementary report that their staff has “embraced Compass 2015 by diving into planning through the model of Understanding by Design.”  Following training from several of the division’s Curriculum and Instruction specialists, staff members now have the tools to be focused on student learning through creating common assessments to reach all learners. 
  • Kemps Landing Magnet School hosted a “Going Green Expo” to kick-off this year’s science research project at the school. In order to fulfill the project’s objective, all students are encouraged to design and conduct an experiment related to an environmental topic.  Twenty-seven businesses specializing in areas from geothermal solutions to sustainable schools were represented at the expo.  Students were able to gather valuable information, to brainstorm ideas with the experts, and to experience hands-on activities demonstrating principles related to current environmental topics.

Other division-wide and school events from the past month include:

  • The Teacher Forum Leadership Council kicked off this year’s National Speaker Series with a presentation by Dr. Tim Tyson entitled “An Irresistible Vision of Global Contribution.” A former educator and administrator in Georgia, Dr. Tyson discussed his passion for meaningful, authentic student engagement through project-based learning activities and the use of technology.  In addition to his Speaker Series presentation, he met with the division’s principals during a recent principal collaborative meeting.
  • The school division celebrated its 89 Teachers of the Year at a citywide dinner on September 30th.  The five Teacher of the Year finalists were recognized, and Betsy DiJulio, the division’s 2010 Teacher of Year, spoke to the audience regarding her experiences as a Visual Arts teacher at Princess Anne High School.
  • The school division’s Office of School Social Work Services and Parent Connection have joined forces with the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia to launch a new program – Beach Bags. Through the program, select students at five elementary schools will receive food supplies every other Friday to help curb weekend hunger. Community members wishing to donate food items or make a financial contribution to this program may do so by contacting the school division’s Office of Community Relations or by contacting the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia.
  • Earlier this month, Virginia Teachers for Tomorrow students participated in Jumpstart’s “Read for the Record” program.  The non-profit organization Jumpstart started the international campaign to bring young children together with adults to read the same book, on the same day, in communities all over the world. Teachers for Tomorrow students from six high schools visited several elementary schools and day care centers to read this year’s book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle.
  • The same week, OfficeMax representatives surprised teachers at five Virginia Beach elementary schools during the company’s “A Day Made Better” nationwide event. OfficeMax invited principals at select schools to nominate one teacher who exemplified passion, dedication, and innovation in the classroom. Honored teachers each received more than $1,000 worth of supplies during the surprise ceremonies.

Lastly this evening, I would like to recognize several of our Board members on behalf of the Virginia School Boards Association.  At your seats, you found certificates from the Association which acknowledge your participation in the VSBA School Board Academy. Receiving a Certificate of Recognition are Rita Sweet Bellitto, Bill Brunke, Dan Lowe, and Carolyn Weems. Receiving an Award of Excellence are Dan Edwards and Sandra Smith-Jones, and earning an Award of Distinction is Pat Edmonson.  Thank you, Board members, for your interest in becoming further educated in boardmanship skills and educational issues through your participation in Academy programs.

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my report for the evening.

Last Modified on Friday, January 20, 2017