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Report Calls on Virginia to Strengthen School Oversight

report screenshot
A new report calls on the Virginia Department of Education to strengthen oversight on schools. (Screenshot: Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission Report)

The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission released a report Monday assessing the performance of the Virginia Department of Education over the last three years.

The report’s takeaways are mainly positive. It says two thirds of staff members at local school districts reported an improved relationship with VDOE. However, the study scrutinizes the approach VDOE takes in supervising local school districts.

“VDOE primarily supervises divisions by asking them to self-certify whether they are complying with state standards. The agency independently verifies compliance for some, but not all, standards and monitors implementation of corrective actions for federal standards but does not always do so for state standards,” the report says.

Another of VDOE’s shortcomings has been in its school improvement program, which JLARC says needs to be strengthened to better support low-performing schools. The report says the VDOE’s Office of School Quality is developing improved mentoring for school leadership to assist these schools.

“Virginia devotes substantially fewer state staff to school improvement than several neighboring states. Virginia’s school-to-staff ratio is much higher than the ratios in North Carolina and Kentucky,” JLARC found.

The report recommends legislation requiring more effective school improvement services and laying out a more comprehensive plan for supervising school districts, and calls on VDOE to prioritize teacher recruitment and retention.

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