Expanding Full-Day Kindergarten in Virginia Beach
In 2018, 13 more elementary schools launched full-day kindergarten. This is part of the school division’s goal to switch all elementary schools from half-day to full-day kindergarten. Ten schools went to full-day in 2017, the first year of the multiyear implementation which is funded by local funds and Title I. Learn More
Fostering Student Agency
VBCPS continues to create more learning experiences that place students in the drivers’ seat of their education, which we refer to as student agency and became a central focus in 2015 with the launch of the school division’s strategic framework, Compass to 2020. This year, school representatives from teachers to principals again participated in many professional learning opportunities to explore more ideas that promote student agency and that they shared with colleagues at their school sites. Learn More
Making Gains on High Academic Expectations
The school division continues to achieve a string of student achievement successes – oftentimes breaking all-time records. This year alone, the division reported 100 percent of schools tested earned state accreditation for the second consecutive year, the highest-ever graduation rate and lowest dropout rate, record number of students taking Advanced Placement courses and higher student performance on SAT and AP exams. In addition, more students are earning industry certifications while in high school. Learn More
Focusing on the 5Cs (critical thinking, creative thinking, communication, collaboration and citizenship) and the VBCPS Graduate Profile
VBCPS is committed to ensure all students are future ready by demonstrating proficiency in the 5Cs as well as the school division’s Graduate Profile. To this end, the division in 2017 added performance tasks, assessments and other opportunities to help teachers help students hone skills. In addition, teachers were provided divisionwide rubrics to measure students’ proficiency. Learn More
To help families make the most of their K-12 educational experience, the school division launched Destination Graduation. This new microsite helps students and families know what to expect at each grade level, provides overviews of key skills students will learn and includes an array of additional resources. Learn More
Talent Acquisition and Retention
The school division continues to step up its efforts to hire and retain more quality staff. The hiring timeline was moved up earlier than ever before, an online component was added to expedite finding the right candidates and more diverse staff has been hired. Since 2014, 50 percent more new minority teachers were hired. In 2017-2018, 21 percent of new teachers and 18 percent of administrators hired, respectively, were minorities.
Office Professional Learning Hub
Keeping with Goal 4 of our strategic framework to foster a culture of growth and excellence among all staff, the Office of Professional Growth and Innovation created a learning hub where office professionals can access a plethora of resources from tips on improving one’s skills to book studies.
In 2017, specializations, a new competency-based approach to teacher professional learning, was launched. Specializations allow teachers to select a defined focus area and develop their own path for learning. Rather than documenting seat time, teachers provide evidence and artifacts of their learning. Specializations for teacher leadership and performance-based assessments are the focus areas available for teachers in 2017-2018.
Special Education Focus
To ensure that all students succeed, including students with disabilities, the division has taken steps to close learning gaps. Administrators were provided expectations and tools to track data, new professional learning opportunities as well as a website with resources for both teachers and administrators were added and work experience options for students with disabilities were expanded.
Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) Expansion
The school division continues to implement Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) in our schools. The PBIS model emphasizes schoolwide systems of support that include proactive strategies for defining, teaching and supporting appropriate student behaviors to create positive school environments. In addition to increasing the number of schools implementing PBIS, one specialist and four coaches were added to assist schools newly implementing PBIS and to provide ongoing coaching and support to schools further along in the implementation process.
Expansion of Breakfast Program
With the percentages of students who qualify for free and reduced lunch increasing to nearly 40 percent, Food Services worked with schools to expand breakfast programs divisionwide. Schools are utilizing models that suit them best – from Breakfast in the Classroom to Breakfast After the Bell to opening up school cafeterias. This year, the school division has already served 350,000 more breakfast meals compared to 2016. Learn More
VBCPS believes in restorative practices, or helping students through mediation, and as such all administrators and counselors participated in professional learning during the 2017 school year to help them hone their skills of student to teacher mediation.
Mental Health Support
In addition to supports provided by the dedicated staff of psychologists, school counselors and social workers, VBCPS brought in a multitude of resources, including online learning courses for students as well as more online books. Topics for these new resources are varied from healthy relationships to communication skills to conflict resolution, bullying, depression, suicide and more.
High schools started implementing OneLunch, an extended lunch period where all students have lunch at the same time. In addition to eating lunch, students have time to receive additional academic help since teachers are available, attend a club meeting, meet with a counselor, take make-up assessments, visit their Library Media Center, or simply work on homework.
Research on rethinking the high school experience pointed to advisory periods as a way to ensure each student is known well by at least one adult in the building. To help make those connections, each of our high schools now has in place 11 advisory periods throughout the year.
Expanding Supports for Military-Connected Students and Families
With approximately 25 percent of its students military-connected, VBCPS was the first school division in Virginia to dedicate two full-time counselors to work with these students. Now, the division added a purple star designation to its student data system to help teachers, counselors and administrators know which students are military-connected and provide necessary supports.
Blue Ribbon Panel on School Safety and Security
With school safety at the forefront of the national stage, Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence called for the formation of a Blue Ribbon Panel on School Safety and Security to analyze the school division’s safety procedures, infrastructure and practices. After two community meetings, an online town hall, school tours and staff interviews, 11 recommendations were presented. Learn More
Technology and Human Capital to Make Schools Safe
A “Report It” feature on the school division’s mobile app and a web scanning application that sends alerts to parents about sites or topics students are researching are being field tested. Both applications will be launched divisionwide.
VBCPS was selected as the sole national partner district on a Carnegie Corporation project. The goal is to create a “Future of Learning” model that could be used by school divisions nationwide.
Community Engagement Liaison
The role of the Community Engagement Liaison (formerly known as the Partnership in Education Coordinator) was further developed during the 2017-2018 school year to ensure consistent, strategic alignment with the school division’s strategic framework, Compass to 2020. School-based Community Engagement Liaisons work collaboratively with Volunteer in Education Liaisons and other key school staff to make connections between the school’s goals, activities and initiatives and the talents, interests and needs of the community.
Community Partnership Expo
In March, more than 1,200 people attended the first VBCPS Partnership Expo and PTA Vendor Fair hosted by the Office of Community Engagement. The event showcased many of the 2,000+ school/community partnerships that provide real-world experiences, including internships, job-shadowing and service-learning opportunities to students across the city. Learn More
VWU Watershed Partnership
To teach students how to be good stewards of the oceans and the environment, the school division added one more partnership. This new partnership with Virginia Wesleyan University’s Grier Environmental Center, provides students hands-on oyster restoration projects and watershed experiences. The division will also continue its educational programs with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Lynnhaven River Now.
Academic and Career Planning
Additional industry specific pathways were added to the Academic and Career Planning website managed by the Office of School Counseling Services. This new information provides suggested learning experiences for middle and high school students and also makes pathway-career connections. Learn More
Increasing Apprenticeships (e.g., IMS Gear)
Two new apprenticeship opportunities were added this year. First, the new IMS Gear apprenticeship offers internship opportunities and can ultimately lead to a paid internship. Similarly, a welding program was added through a regional partnership with Tidewater Community College, local Hampton Roads school divisions with business partners, Newport News Shipbuilding, Oceaneering, Lyons, and others.
The school division continues to expand its preschool program for at-risk students by offering it to more classrooms in more schools. In 2017-2018, two new class sections were added and more are coming in the future. Learn More
Student Response Teams Schools continued to focus on addressing students’ academic and behavioral needs by putting systematic processes and procedures in place to meet these needs through the formation of Student Response Teams or SRT. The SRT works to identify and provide early interventions to students.
Schoology Field Test To reduce touch points for teachers, students and parents when interacting with the school division’s digital content, VBCPS launched Schoology that serves as a single destination for teaching and learning information. Schoology was field tested with Digital Learning Anchor Schools and is being rolled out to all schools in the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years.