The Virginia General Assembly passed a number of bills pertaining to K-12 and higher education during the 2015 session. The session ended in February, and Governor McAuliffe has now signed into law most of the education bills that passed the General Assembly, including amendments to the state budget to support education.
Among these budget amendments are a pay increase for teachers, provided that local school divisions offer a matching amount, and funding for more in-state students to attend Virginia’s public universities.
A summary of the bills that received the most attention during the session may be found here. Except as noted, all of the bills passed with my “yes” vote and were signed into law.
As you may know, I serve on the Education Committee in the House of Delegates and on all three subcommittees: Elementary and Secondary, Education Reform, and Higher Education.
I also serve on the bipartisan Standards of Learning (SOL) Innovation Committee, which was established in 2014, and meets throughout the year. This committee consists mostly of teachers and other education professionals, and a few legislators. It addresses ways to improve testing and how student achievement is measured in Virginia’s public schools. The SOL Committee made several recommendations that become law, and this is noted in the bill summary mentioned above.
Last year, the General Assembly took the significant step of reducing the number of required SOL tests in grades 3 through 8, from 22 to 17 tests. This reduction is being implemented during the current school year. If you are a teacher or parent of a child in these grades, I welcome your thoughts about how well this revision to SOL testing is working.
You may have heard in the news about the challenges that face local school budgets. I’d like you to know that the state is providing record levels of funding for local school divisions again this year and next year. In Fairfax, state funding for K-12 public education has increased 24 percent in four years to $609 million for the 2015-16 school year. In Loudoun, the increase is 31 percent to $291 million.