VDOE Announces New A​nnual Reading & Math​ Objectives​

Goal to Cut Gap between Highest- & Lowest-Performing Schools by Half

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), following a formula approved by the Board of Education and the US Department of Education (USED), has established new annual benchmarks for raising achievement in the commonwealth’s lowest-performing schools. The new annual objectives in reading and mathematics replace the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) targets schools were previously required to meet under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Under the provisions of the two-year flexibility waiver granted by USED on June 29, ambitious but achievable annual measurable objectives (AMOs) have been set for student subgroups, including new “proficiency gap groups” comprising students who historically have had difficulty meeting the commonwealth’s achievement standards:

  • Proficiency Gap Group 1 — Students with disabilities, English language learners and economically disadvantaged students, regardless of race and ethnicity (unduplicated)
  • Proficiency Gap Group 2 — African-American students, not of Hispanic origin, including those also counted in Proficiency Gap Group 1
  • Proficiency Gap Group 3 — Hispanic students, of one or more races, including those also counted in Proficiency Gap Group 1

The benchmarks are set with the goal of reducing by half proficiency gaps in reading and mathematics between schools performing at the 20th and 90th percentiles — overall and for each subgroup and proficiency gap group — over six years.

“Accomplishing this goal will make a difference in the lives of thousands of Virginia students in chronically underperforming schools,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright said.

“The commonwealth and school divisions are now able to focus federal resources on the schools most in need of reform while maintaining accountability for raising achievement in all schools through Virginia’s accreditation standards,” Board of Education President David M. Foster said.

The AMOs were determined using a formula based on the federal law and student-achievement data from the state’s assessment program. Annual reading benchmarks for the first year of flexibility are based on achievement on 2010-2011 state assessments and mathematics benchmarks are based on achievement during 2011-2012.

“The mathematics AMOs are based on student achievement on the rigorous new Standards of Learning (SOL) tests introduced last year and are designed for the specific purpose of cutting in half the gap between Virginia’s lowest- and highest-performing schools,” Wright said. “These new annual objectives should not be compared with last year’s AYP benchmarks.”

Reading benchmarks will be reset next year based on the performance of students during 2012-2013 on new reading SOL tests reflecting the increased rigor of the 2010 English standards.

Under the flexibility granted last month, Virginia schools and school divisions will no longer receive annual AYP ratings. However, information on schools and school divisions meeting and not meeting the new, annual federal benchmarks will be reported in early September on the VDOE website.

VDOE also will report on low-performing schools identified as “priority” and “focus” schools. Priority and focus schools are subject to state-approved and monitored school-improvement interventions. Priority and focus schools, however, are not subject to previous federal “improvement” sanctions, such as having to provide public school choice or private tutoring.

Five percent of Virginia’s Title I schools (36) will be identified as priority schools based on overall reading and mathematics achievement as well as graduation rates for high schools. Priority schools must engage a state-approved turnaround partner to help implement a school-improvement model meeting state and federal requirements.

Ten percent of Virginia’s Title I schools (72) will be designated as focus schools based on reading and mathematics achievement of students in the three proficiency gap groups. Focus schools must employ a state-approved coach to help the division develop, implement and monitor intervention strategies to improve the performance of students at risk of not meeting achievement standards or dropping out of school.

Many of the commonwealth’s underperforming schools are already subject to these and similar interventions as a consequence of state accountability provisions and requirements for schools receiving federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) funds.

All public schools — including schools that do not receive Title I funds under the federal education law — must develop and implement improvement plans to raise the achievement of student subgroups not meeting the annual benchmarks.

School divisions also are expected to meet the new annual measurable objectives in reading and mathematics for all student subgroups and proficiency gap groups.



  1. Want to Know says:

    Since Clark has always failed in these but it doesn’t count because there are not many kids like that does that mean we can keep on not teaching these kids?

  2. Blossom Butt says:

    My complaint has to do with the entire teaching method. I have a upcoming 8th grader who doesn’t know how to address an envelope because it wasn’t taught. He also doesn’t know how to write in cursive because adequate time was not given to this long forgotten art. There are more examples, but this is what the SOL and other learning prerequisites are doing to our students. They may graduate from a school that had a great overall score, but he will start his first job and not be able to send out a silly business letter.

  3. George Archibald says:

    The prime responsibility of parents after normal care and basic needs and upbringing of a child is to teach them language skills at home, to read, write and count. It sounds from this comment that this “upcoming 8th grader” has been badly neglected in gthese areas at home by Blossom Butt or parents of this young person from age two on. How sad. Schools let us down in many ways concerning teaching our children literacy and basic skills, but this is not their responsibility alone. Those who raise children where they live have this responsibility first and foremost, and they have full responsibility for failure when this does not occur. Blossom Butt is to blame if this “upcoming 8th grader” can’t even address an envelope. What a frying shame for this young person who is being doomed to failure in his or her own home.

    • Tony Parrott says:

      On a high level I agree with you; education doesn’t stop at the school house door. It takes parental involvement to complete an education. Where I disagree is your assessment the BB and that his/her child is doomed to failure.

      You see every household is different. My kids are lucky they have two parents that that are involved and around. Some kids have two parents working or only one parent raising them. I myself am a good example. My mom was a single parent without a HS diploma how worked very hard to keep a roof over my head, food on the table and clothed in the best Kmart offered. The education she offered was not in a book (hard work and sacrifice) and it was more observed than taught. So to say BB if a failure as a parent is wrong. I personally would not pass judgment on another parent as you just did.
      As for the education aspect I recall learning at a young age how to address and envelope. But because of the technological advancements using a mouse and a keyboard is far more useful. If you need to know how you can Google it and teach yourself in about one minute. Writing skills like cursive have went from mandatory to art form. What has taken me time to understand and other haven’t figured out yetis that education has changed. For better or worse our system is trying to teach kids for the future not the past. Skill sets that we needed to survive are not what they will need. I also like most others feel these kids are missing out on things like the history of our country, the responsibility of citizenship and many other things and that is an area where parents can step in. If they don’t that’s ok too because education doesn’t end as a youth, it is a lifelong process that doesn’t end until you are on the other side of the dirt.

      Well back to my hiatus……

  4. Blossom Butt says:

    To Right Winger and George – I do teach my child at home, every single night of the school year, unfortunately. Yes, Tony, I am a single parent with two children in Clarke County and fortunately, one is great at school work and needs little help. The younger one is not the greatest so it is a constant struggle for me to keep on top of his work and make sure assignments are turned in and turned in correct. If you have children in school, then you know what I am talking about….if you dont, then let me educate you about what we parents face. The children are given homework and not just handouts, but things written in their assignment books. This is written in by the children themselves at the direction of the teacher, and if they forget to write it in, then I have no way of knowing the work is due. If they do write it in, and forget to bring the book or handout home, then I have to write down that assignment that wasnt done, and try to remember to have it done the next time the book is brought home. Alot of times, there are handouts, and the explanation as to how to do the work was given in class, which I was not present for, then I am stuck trying to figure out how he is to do the work when he cant remember and the work is due the next day. Add to that the fact that if other assignments I had no knowledge of are not done, I am frequently not notified until the issue is extreme and several assignments are not done then the teacher is telling me via email that his work isnt done and I am trying to backtrack and get stuff done that I have no knowledge of. The online portal that was used in lower grades that showed what homework was assigned worked so well and I was always able to keep on top of it. Unfortunately, that portal is not used by his teachers now, or at least not the ones he has, and I cant rely on that. You have to understand the child is 13, not an adult, and like us when we were that age, and when he leaves school, the only thing on his mind is what he can do that isnt associated with school. He is not an executive with an assistant who can remind him of things and he doesnt have the adult mindset to keep him on track. That is my job and I do the best I can to do that. I spend no less than 2 hours each night during the school year working with him on homework, things that were wrong on his papers, why he was wrong etc. All of this when I havent been in school in over 30 years and many of the stuff has long been forgotten by me. Plus, now according to you, I should also go back over my 12+ years in school and remember what I knew by 8th grade and teach him what I knew at that point, because what is taught now is not what was taught then? I had no idea he didnt know these things until recently and was very surprised. There are no book reports, no writing assignments, no proper punctuation of sentences, etc. So what I was taught has no correlation to what he was taught. But I am still supposed to somehow look into my crystal ball and know? I work two jobs, seven days a week, show up for sports events, help with homework, do laundry, grocery shop, cook meals, keep a clean house, try to find time alone for each child, AND meet with teachers when it is absolutely necessary and they contact me about a problem. Please tell me, just what else should I be doing that I am already not doing? Perhaps then you can point me in the direction of the nearest cloning facility, because I do not believe I can physically add any more to my plate at the present time. However, I am told each teacher has an aide or people who help. There are quite a few teacher work days in the school year. I am constantly told that they work many long hours each day. I am not saying they are lazy or not working, but at what point does someone begin to point the finger back at the teacher and say THAT IS YOUR JOB?