Richmond County satisfies annual ‘No Child Left Behind’ objectives
For the first time in recent memory, Richmond County hit the trifecta of educational accomplishments.
On the heels of achieving the highest SAT and SOL scores in the region, the district has now been recognized as one of only 34 out of the 132 school divisions in the commonwealth who have met the annual objectives as prescribed by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act.
“We found out today that… as a division [we] met the reading, math and graduation rates [based upon] the federal standards,” Superintendent Dr. Greg Smith said during an Oct. 10 school board meeting. “I think that is a pretty good standard to meet. We have met all the requirements for NCLB and we are very pleased with that.”
In a followup interview, Smith explained that NCLB uses annual measurable objectives as a measuring stick for the growth of public schools based on the student performances in standardized tests for math and reading in addition to graduation standards.
He added that the results take into account all of the different grade levels and their subgroups, which range not only from different courses but also to race and those with disabilities and economic disadvantages.
“There are more than 25 categories and you have to perform well on each one of those categories just to qualify,” Smith said. “Richmond County met those and this was due in part to the good work done at the elementary school, which just came out of school improvement. They really helped out.”
Smith added that the work was a direct result of the efforts of former superintendent Dr. Marilyn Barr and Sara Schmidt, the current assistant superintendent.
“They deserve special credit,” he said. “[Barr] did a marvelous job with this and Schmidt was amazing coordinating with the staff and community to get these results.”
Smith noted that the county’s three public schools continue to be one of the 1,714 accredited schools in the commonwealth.
He added during the meeting that the school system also scored above standards on its educational spending.
Last year, a bill in the General Assembly backed by Gov. Bob McDonnell sought to make all schools spend at least 65 percent of their allocated budget on education.
Although the bill did not pass, schools are now required to report how much of each dollar spent goes directly to instruction.
“Ours was rated at 65.7 percent, meeting the standard,” Smith said. “It is in excess of of every other locality to which we compare, including Colonial Beach, Essex, Lancaster, Northumberland and Westmoreland with the closest being at 63.4 percent and the lowest being at 55.7 percent.”
On Friday, Smith added that the school would continue its efforts to improve local education by better preparing students for both standardized tests and college.
“We are going to offer [the PSAT] for the first time to each of our sophomores free of cost next year and also we have scheduled the freshmen class, every member, to visit the University of Mary Washington,” Smith said. “I want every child to be prepared to go to college if they choose to. And if they don’t go directly to college I want them ready to explore other options, whether they choose to join the military or enroll in a trade school.”
He added that research clearly shows that students who take the PSAT typically move forward to some form of secondary education.
“This is very valuable to students and their families and is a diagnostic test that is very productive in moving our students forward,” Smith said. “The state of Virginia compares favorably nationally in every educational category. For our students to be performing well in the state means we are doing well nationally. There is some real quality work being done in Richmond County’s schools.”