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Please see below an address I made to Dr. Steve Staples, State Superintendent, and a Board of Education representative at a public hearing in Mecklenburg on August 23, 2017. The public hearing centered around the notion of updating the accreditation standards and designations. Since that date, I have shared my sentiments with the school board and most faculties in Buckingham. Only the high school remains on my tour. In the meantime, I have been approached by several teachers to have access to my comments. Out of respect for and in honor of our teachers' requests, I present them to you through my blog. Thank you! Context: VDOE public hearing in Mecklenburg, VA on August 23, 2017. Why are the proposed accreditation designations and accreditation standards important? I want to share with you our journey in Buckingham to emphasize what you already know about the current accreditation labels, particularly that of the denied status. Buckingham, like all other public schools in the Commonwealth, is currently judged on the all student pass rate on state assessments in English, math, science, and social studies in the grade bands of 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12 with one additional benchmark in the grade band of 9-12 to include the graduation completion index. For Buckingham, this gives us 13 benchmarks to consider. Fortunately we have been able to meet 11 of 13 benchmarks, consistently. The two benchmarks that have been challenging lie at the grade band of 3-5 in reading and in the grade band of 6-8 in English. Outside of those two benchmark areas, Buckingham appears solid, even boasting a graduation completion index of 94. Well, as you know, if it takes more than three years to correct an area that does not meet the prescribed benchmark, then accreditation is denied to the whole school. As you also understand, accreditation denied has a stigma that is difficult to overcome because such a status could be interpreted by the public that school personnel is aloof or “not trying.” A concrete example of this type of thinking materialized in a public meeting about one and half years ago as I passionately corrected an individual who referred to us as failing. Unfortunately, this vitriolic use of language may be excused by some, it is not excused by me. Various staff have participated in 52 days of specific instructional professional development, 13 days of OSI meetings, two days of intensive OSI meetings with the VDOE, 30+ data meetings, five curricula development days, and 50 vertical alignment meetings. We are honing our craft to be successful. We are far from failures.   I tell you this, not because my story is unique, I am certainly not the only superintendent who fights indignities and who supports a hardworking corp of teachers and students. But I tell you this because the work is long and tedious [sometimes the deep thoughtful work takes longer than three years to translate into passing scores], and it is work we happily support in Buckingham. It’s difficult enough to motivate staff and community and cultivate change without having to “beat back” the unfortunate labels that fall short of the true strength of a school. Have no fear, we will meet our benchmarks in reading and we will add that accomplishment to a long list of accomplishments that we celebrate in Buckingham. It’s just good to know that my teachers and the school system may not have to bear a negative label while improving the teaching and learning process for students should we slip under a benchmark in the future. Thank you, appreciatively.
Posted by csnead  On Sep 13, 2017 at 5:40 PM
  
We have had an exceptionally good beginning to our school year. We thank our parents and community for such a positive start and cooperative effort. Staff is excited and they have worked inordinately hard to bring meaningful change and support to the teaching and learning process. In addition to students becoming used to their new school year, we have capitalized on learning opportunities for our students: the solar eclipse, STEM supports (coding, robotics, 3D printer accessibility), and a balanced literacy approach for our preK-5 students. You can read about the balanced literacy approach as a feature on our leading web page for Buckingham County Public Schools. We have also introduced a new web presence that is ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant in an effort to ensure that everyone has access to our content. We hope your children continue to enjoy their school year. Please don’t hesitate to keep in communication with your child’s teachers and administration in an effort to provide the best possible circumstances for your child. Thank you very much for your support of Buckingham County Public Schools.
Posted by csnead  On Aug 29, 2017 at 3:51 PM
  
 
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