Herndon Police Cites Drivers for Violating Cellphone Ban — The Town of Herndon Police Department says its officers issued 22 citations last week for violations of Virginia’s new law against driving while using mobile devices. The ban took effect on Jan. 1 of this year and imposes a $125 fine for a first offense, followed by $250 for a second offense. [Herndon PD/Twitter]
Northam Signs Deal to Expand Virginia’s Railroads — “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed a $3.7 billion deal Tuesday with Amtrak and CSX Transportation that officials say will break loose a major East Coast chokepoint and allow for a dramatic expansion of passenger and commuter rail.” [NBC4]
Lawsuit Filed over Virginia Guidelines Supporting Transgender Students — Conservative groups are suing the Virginia Department of Education over its new policy requiring school districts to accept students’ gender identities and provide access to facilities and programs in accordance with those identities. The policy took effect on March 6 after the General Assembly passed a law last year directing the department to develop guidelines. [The Washington Post]
Reston Nonprofit to Benefit from Jersey Mike’s Purchases Today — “Jersey Mike’s Subs store at 2254 Hunters Woods Plaza in Reston is donating 100 percent of sales to Cornerstones on Wednesday…The effort is part of the sandwich franchise chain’s Month of Giving, which has raised $32 million for local charities since 2011.” [Reston Patch]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
The Virginia Department of Education is considering changing the benchmarks required for graduation and school accreditation.
The board is looking at lowering the verified credit requirement for students to five credits for both standard and advanced diplomas. The credits would come from math, science, reading, writing and social studies courses.
The department has scheduled meetings to get the input of communities around the state. The first meeting was held recently in Fairfax County, the Fairfax Times reported.
Currently, students must earn nine verified credits for an advanced diploma and six credits for a standard diploma. Verified credits are earned in classes that culminate in a Virginia Standards of Learning exam, also referred to as the SOLs.
The state wants to move towards “authentic performance assessments” instead of the traditional standardized exams for social studies and writing. One critique over the past few years, from students, parents and even teachers, is that the exams don’t allow students to demonstrate all of their knowledge.
The move away from standardized testing would also change the way schools are accredited. Schools earn their accreditation based on student performance on the SOL — 75 percent of students must pass the language arts exams and 70 percent have to pass the math, science and history exams for a school to be accredited.
The system described in the proposal would create three classifications for schools. Level I schools would be those “at or above standard,” Level II schools would be those “near standard or improving,” and Level III schools would be those “below standard.” The drop-out rates, chronic absenteeism, College and Career Readiness Index, would be scored.
Schools that are below standard would have the opportunity for accreditation under the new system. Level III schools would get accreditation, but would have to improve their performance within three years before losing accreditation.
The last meeting will be in August. The board is expected to review its plan in November before finalizing it at the end of the year.