Albemarle schools revisiting class rank reporting

The Charlottesville String Ensemble plays on the Downtown Mall to kick off fundraising for their summer 2014 trip to France. Photo courtesy Charlottesville Tomorrow The Charlottesville String Ensemble plays on the Downtown Mall to kick off fundraising for their summer 2014 trip to France. Photo courtesy Charlottesville Tomorrow

Our regular Education Beat reporting is the result of a partnership with the nonprofit community news platform Charlottesville Tomorrow, which covers growth, development, public education, and local politics.

Albemarle County Public Schools announced last week that the division has been reviewing its policy of reporting class rankings to college admissions offices. The review is the result of calls from parents who say it hurts gifted students who are not in the top 10 percent of their class.

Currently, Albemarle reports class ranks to colleges and universities in deciles, but former college admissions officer Fred Smyth said doing so gives selective colleges a reason to eliminate capable students who fall short of the mark.

Western Albemarle High School parent Elizabeth Ferrall argued that to stop reporting decile rankings would be unfair to those students who have earned them.

“They know the world is a competitive place and they are choosing to compete on the academic arena,” Ferrall said. “To take that away from them is really unfair for all the work that they’ve put in to get into the top 10 percent.”

University of Virginia Dean of Admissions Gregory Roberts said that while students are evaluated holistically, the rigor of their course load and how well they fared carries the most weight.

Staff are expected to make a recommendation on whether or not to stop reporting ranks and when that change would be implemented at the School Board’s first meeting in October.

Blue Ribbon Commission asks for population, tax projections

At the second meeting of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Sustainable Schools Funding last week, commission member Steve Campbell wondered if future development in Charlottesville might cure some of the schools’ funding woes.

“Our ability to get a handle on [population projections] for the next five years either exacerbates our problems and makes this a more critical function or it actually by nature solves it,” Campbell said.

The Blue Ribbon Commission is a 13-member panel appointed by Charlottesville City Manager Maurice Jones to develop a sustainable funding model for the city’s schools.

Specifically, Campbell pointed to the nearly 1,100 housing units either under construction or under review in Charlottesville, and how the increased population could potentially increase the city’s tax base for schools.

Jones said staff would collect tax and population projections, but that it’s difficult to predict due to market fluctuations and the additional services the new population would require, which the city does not have to supply currently.

The commission hopes to deliver possible solutions to the City Council in December. The next meeting is on October 1.


City schools accredited: All Charlottesville City Schools are fully accredited for the 2013-14 year based on last year’s testing scores, according to a press release sent out last week.

Buford Middle School parent-teacher conferences: On Thursday, September 26 from 3-7pm, Buford Middle School will hold parent-teacher conferences. For more information, please call BMS at 245-2411.

Albemarle parent-teacher conferences: Monticello High School, Tuesday, September 24 from 4:30-
7:30pm; Joseph T. Henley Middle School, Wednesday, September 25 from 4:30-8pm; Sutherland Middle School, Thursday, September 26, from 4:30-8pm; Western Albemarle High School, Thursday, September 26, from 4:30-7:30pm.

Charlottesville High School back-to-school night: On Tuesday, September 24 at 6pm, Charlottesville High School will hold back-to-school night for all grades.

Mark Cubbage. Photo courtesy Charlottesville Tomorrow

Mark Cubbage, history teacher, Charlottesville High School

In your eyes, what is the biggest challenge facing education currently?

How can you convince students that they are a gift, that they matter, and that they can create within this world great things when they are defined by a standardized test score? How can their creativity, innovations, and varied thoughts be embraced when standardized testing suffocates anything but rote learning? The challenge isn’t the test, but our apathy to do anything about it. The challenge is finding the motivation and courage to stand up and say, “I beg to differ,” to stand up and represent our students, in a world that does not often embrace change.

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