Our perspective on Virginia's school accreditation process:
Last night in his CNN town hall, Governor Youngkin brought up changes to Virginia’s school accreditation system that were made in 2018 and said that they were responsible for “lowering standards” in Virginia schools and causing drops in student performance. Let’s review those accreditation system changes and clarify what the real issues are:
The changes to Virginia’s accreditation system in 2018 focused on measuring student’s academic growth and closing achievement gaps, along with addressing chronic absenteeism rates and measures of college and career readiness. In Virginia, schools that are “accredited with conditions”, meaning they weren’t fully accredited, are given no additional resources or support beyond limited advice and an “improvement plan.” In the 2021-2022 school year, schools that weren’t fully accredited received less funding per student on average than fully accredited schools.
Virginia students, teachers, and parents have been working hard to address significant achievement barriers in the face of chronic underfunding and the impacts of the pandemic. Virginia ranks 40th in the nation for per pupil state funding. Research has shown time and time again that school funding is key to improving student outcomes. What Virginia needs is to fully and fairly fund our public schools.
Negotiations around the state budget are ongoing. The budget introduced by Governor Youngkin and the House this year never fixed this issue and continues to drastically under-resource our highest-need and not fully accredited schools. However, the Senate budget proposal would help change this through historic investments in education and funding 1,900 temporary instructional assistants for students in schools that are struggling to meet accreditation measures.