VASSP Member Update, October 2, 2023

Articles of Interest  

Alexandria Public Schools launches app to combat absenteeism

Prince William Counterproposal on Teacher Salaries

Albemarle rerouting buses to help get more students to school amid driver shortage  

Alleghany Highlands Public Schools Announces Local Efforts to Celebrate the Attendance Awareness Campaign – The Virginian Review

SPS WATCH D.O.G.S brings dads and their kids together – The Suffolk News-Herald

National Articles of Interest

Many districts racing against the clock to spend ARP funds | K-12 Dive

Budget deal averts education funding nightmare | K-12 Dive

Blizzard of state test scores shows some progress in math, divergence in reading

Small successes can motivate students to persevere through difficulties | K-12 Dive

Boosting the early childhood workforce to boost the economy | K-12 Dive

More NYC teachers are frequently out sick following COVID-19 pandemic

97% of teens say they use their phones during the school day

Significant flaws found in special ed written state complaint process | K-12 Dive

DOE Updates

Medicaid & Schools | Virginia Department of Education

Earth Science Week October 8-14
Earth Science Week will celebrate the theme “Geoscience Innovating for Earth and People.” The coming year’s event will emphasize the many ways that innovations in the geosciences are helping communities create healthier and increasingly sustainable lives, while accelerating environmental problem-solving around the world. Classroom activities and other resources are available for students to discover the Earth sciences and engage in responsible stewardship of the Earth.

Virginia Statewide LMS Credentials for Educators & Technology/Infrastructure Personnel
Four credential opportunities are available, with two tracks for teachers and other education personnel and two tracks for technology/infrastructure personnel. Each will include a series of webinars and a brief online course. Participants who successfully complete a track will earn a certificate and digital badge worth five hours of professional learning. Register for the webinar on October 9 at 4 p.m.

NASA Opportunities for High School Students
Virginia Space Coast Scholars: High school sophomores focus on the science, engineering, and technology integral to current missions at NASA Wallops Flight Facility and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. Applications due by October 24.
Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholars: High school junior and senior students selected to participate in the program are immersed in NASA-related research through interaction with scientists, engineers and technologists. Application due by October 24.
Virginia Earth System Science Scholars: High school juniors and seniors in the program will engage in NASA’s satellite missions designed to improve understanding of our own planet’s complex systems through the power of remote sensing. Application due by October 24.

Virginia Literacy Act Curriculum Update

Audience: Superintendents, Directors, School Principals, Teachers
Contact: VLA Team (email)

The Virginia Literacy Act (VLA) requires VDOE to recommend instructional programs in literacy–including K-5 core, K-8 supplemental, and K-8 intervention materials–that are aligned with the eligibility criteria of VLA, namely evidence-based literacy instruction and science-based reading research for approval by the Virginia Board of Education (VBOE). The VBOE has already approved an initial list of K-3 core instructional materials in June 2023.?The VDOE website has been updated to include the completed rubrics  and pricing lists (DOCX) for the K-3 core instructional materials.  

VDOE, in partnership with the Virginia Literacy Partnerships (VLP), has opened Cycle 2 of the Instructional Program Review process which includes:? 

  • K-5 Core Instructional Programs? 
  • K-8 Supplemental Materials? 
  • K-8 Intervention Materials? 

Reviews are being conducted by Virginia educators including administrators, reading specialists, and teachers. Virginia is using a two-phase process for core instruction review that is 1) modeled on similar processes in other states, and 2) designed to align with the requirements of the VLA and the current textbook review process.??Cycle II K-5 Core materials will be presented to the VBOE for first review during the November 15-16 Board meeting and then be presented for final approval during the December Board meeting. The VDOE website has been updated to show the core instructional programs submitted in this review cycle and the program’s status. 

A recommended list of supplemental and intervention materials will also be brought to the VBOE in early 2024. Dates are forthcoming for supplemental and intervention materials and should be formally announced shortly.

Ed. Department Updates


On September 22, President Biden announced the establishment of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention to reduce gun violence and expand on key executive and legislative actions taken to save lives (see President’s remarks and Vice President’s remarks). 

That same day, the Department announced a $2.6 million award to boost mental health services and professionals in schools, delivering on an important priority of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA).  The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System will establish a national Mental Health Evaluation, Training, Research, and Innovation Center for Schools (METRICS) to increase assistance and offer new resources on training mental health professionals and providing school-based mental health services.  Over the next five years, BSCA will invest more than $1 billion in school-based mental health programs, making substantial progress toward the President’s goal — under his Mental Health Strategy — to double the number of school counselors, social workers, and other professionals available to support students’ mental health needs. 

Separately, the Department of Health and Human Services announced $206 million in grant awards for youth mental health. 

EXPANDING ACCESS TO SCHOOL MEALS On September 26, the Agriculture Department announced it is giving an estimated 3,000 more school districts in high-need areas the option to serve breakfast and lunch to all students at no cost, by expanding the availability of the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP).  CEP is a simplified meal service option that allows schools to provide meals at no cost to all students without requiring families to apply for free or reduced-price meals.  Instead, districts receive federal funding based on a formula using existing data from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other programs.  Previously, for a school to be eligible for CEP, at least 40% of students had to live in households participating in certain income-based federal assistance programs.  A new rule lowers that threshold to 25% (press release).