Like kids, schools will get letter grades

Students will not be the only ones who may dread showing their grades to parents. Starting in 2014, each Virginia public school will get a very public letter grade ranging from A to F.

On the last day of the legislative session, the General Assembly passed a bill creating a system to rate each school on an A-to-F grading scale based on student performance.

The final version of House Bill 1999 was approved on a 22-17 vote in the Senate and a 65-31 vote in the House. This version had been negotiated through a conference committee of members from both chambers.

One difference between the conference committee’s report and the original draft of HB 1999 involves when the schools will receive their first letter grade.

In the original bill, schools would have been assigned a letter grade by October 2013. The grade would have been based primarily on state accreditation ratings and would not have taken into account students’ educational growth.

Under the adopted version, schools will not be given a grade until October 2014 after the Virginia Board of Education establishes standards to measure student growth.

Students’ academic growth will be based on statewide tests and school test scores. The numbers will be compared with scores from previous year scores and statewide averages.

The Virginia Association of School Superintendents has concerns about the grading system. It takes away the constitutional power of the cities and county governments to manage their own educational systems, said Pat Russo, president-elect of VASS and superintendent of Henrico County Public Schools.

VASS is concerned that if a school gets an F, it will be placed under state authority – usurping local control.

However, Gov. Bob McDonnell believes an A-F grading system will allow for more transparency about the performance of Virginia’s schools. McDonnell received support from two prominent Republicans – Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush – who had implemented such systems in their states.

HB 1999 was sponsored by Delegate Thomas “Tag” Greason, R-Lansdowne.

Reynolds CC to host sculptor Paul DiPasquale

Reynolds Community College will host Richmond sculptor Paul DiPasquale Sept. 28 as he shares his presentation “Art Talk, Why Art Matters” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Conference Center Gallery of the Workforce Development and Conference Center on the Parham Road Campus, located at 1651 E. Parham Road in Richmond. This event is free and open to the public. > Read more.

Free children’s clothing for those in need

The Children's Clothing Closet at Highland Springs United Methodist Church will be open Saturday, Aug. 27 and Tuesday, Aug. 30 to provide free new or nearly new children's clothing for families in need, prior to the start of the school year. The Clothing Closet will be open from 10 a.m. to noon both days. The church is located at 22 North Holly Avenue. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10

Beautiful fall weather is back this weekend! Don’t leave your favorite pooch at home – take the whole family to Canine Companions’ DogFest Walk ‘n Roll at West Broad Village or FETCH a Cure’s annual Mutt Strutt at Deep Run Park. Pets are also welcome at this weekend’s Central Virginia Celtic Festival and Highland Games. Halloween events taking place Sunday include the University of Richmond’s 18th annual Trick or Treat Street and Goblins and Gourds at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.


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Henrico County Recreation and Parks will host a free walking tour of Dorey Park from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The wildlife and history of the park will be discussed during the walk. Registration is required. Ages 18+. For details, call 652-1437. Full text

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