2017 PPI Score
School Choice Score: 62%
Virginia enacted the Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits Program in 2012 and launched the program in 2013. This program offers a 65 percent tax credit to individuals and businesses that donate to qualified Scholarship Foundations (SFs). The SFs then provide private school scholarships to students whose families meet the income requirements.
Charter Schools Score: 0%
Virginia has a weak charter school law due to the large control that local school districts have.
Virginia’s law only allows for school districts to authorize charter schools. These school districts have total control over charter schools ranging from how much they get funded and what regulations apply to them. Not surprisingly districts have used this authority to effectively stop charter schools from opening, expanding, and innovating, ultimately harming the students of Virginia.
Virginia has earned an F in CER’s new charter school law rankings. Despite not having a cap on the number of charter schools allowed in the state, charter schools in Virginia are dependent on school districts both in order to be authorized and must negotiate any and all independence from any district or state laws and regulations with the district meaning they cannot be the innovators they ought to be and earning Virginia a failing grade.
- Fast Facts
- Law Passed: 1998
- Number of Charter Schools: 9
- Estimated Charter School Enrollment: 1500 (25percent increase from 2015-16)
- Virginia does not cap the number of charter schools that can be authorized
- Virtual schools are permitted (with district approval)
- Charter Schools can contract with EMOs and CMOs for management support (with district approval)
- Virginia earned a zero out of fifteen for authorizers. In Virginia, school districts have total control over all authorizing decisions for charter schools. While in many other states there are appeals processes in place where if a district denies a charter school’s application some other body can ensure their decision was correct, in Virginia, Districts maintain total control over all charter school authorization decisions. Districts make bad authorizers because in authorizing charter schools, they are authorizing their competition. This means that they are very likely not to authorize schools that would represent real competition or regulate charter schools to the point where they cease to become truly innovative options for students. Due to the lack of appeal, that power is far larger in Virginia which means students are even more hurt.
- Virginia earned an eleven out of fifteen for growth. While it does not cap the number of charter schools that can be authorized, the number of charter schools and new schools do not seem to be getting authorized due to the regulatory environment. Virginia’s charter sector is growing slowly but surely, suggesting that if the regulatory control of school districts was lowered charter schools could very easily take off.
- Virginia earned a three out of twenty for operations. Virginia’s charter school law does to outline any academic exemptions for charter schools and thus charters are under total control from the district meaning there are barred by law from being the innovative bodies charters are supposed to be. Additionally, charter schools are subject to the existing collective bargaining agreement for teachers unless exemptions are made. Without these exemptions charter schools in Virginia are often hamstrung with staffing decisions and do not have the ability to act as autonomously as they need to be effective. Additionally, Charter school teachers must be certified in the same manner that traditional public school teachers are. The sole effect of this policy is that it prevents individuals who have not gone through the bureaucratic measures of teacher certification from working with students even if the charter schools thinks they are the right individual for the job.
Virginia earned a zero out of fifteen for funding equity. In Virginia, funding for charter schools passes through the district at the discretion of the school district. Because school districts retain all of the control for funding they are able to use that power to remove even more operational autonomy from charter schools.
Online Learning Score: 85%
Virginia is one of a few states requiring an online class for graduation beginning in the 2013-2014 school year, but caps on virtual school enrollment and boundary restrictions limit student access to online learning opportunities. Virginia has opportunities for students to access online courses for all K-12 students and students starting in 9th grade is now required to complete an online course in order to graduate.
Teacher Quality Score: 78%
Delivering Well Prepared Teachers C+
Expanding the Pool of Teachers C
Identifying Effective Teachers D+
Retaining Effective Teachers B
Exiting Ineffective Teachers C