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Posted on: September 21, 2020

Salem School Division Earns Statewide Honor

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The State Board of Education has recognized 15 Virginia school divisions as “School Divisions of Innovation” and Salem is one of them. To put this in perspective, there are 132 different school divisions throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

“The Salem City School Board has made it clear that high graduation rates are a key measure of success, but having a diploma is not enough,” says Dr. Alan Seibert, Salem Superintendent. “Our board wants all students to graduate with a diploma and a plan and we want that future plan to properly equip each student with knowledge, experiences, and goals.”

The winners were honored for designing and implementing alternatives to traditional instructional practices and school structures that improve student learning and promote college and career readiness, along with good citizenship.

"We are excited that the VDOE and the Virginia Board of Education recognize the innovative work the Salem is doing to create a personalized approach to K-12 education,” says Dr. Curtis Hicks, Salem Assistant Superintendent. “We serve a diverse student population with unique abilities and interests.  Our goal is to meet students where they are and provide the experiences they need to help them discover where they want to go and the knowledge and skills to ensure that they are successful when they get there." 

These 15 divisions are the first to earn the designation, which was authorized by the 2017 General Assembly.

“I think it is fair to say that innovation has never been more important in public education than today as schools across the commonwealth and nation focus on improving distance learning in the face of a pandemic, while addressing inequities in opportunities and outcomes,” says Board of Education President Daniel Gecker. “I congratulate the leaders of all these school divisions for creating innovative plans to address the challenges in their schools and engage their students in deeper learning across the curriculum.”

Salem was recognized for expanding its computer science curriculum, enhancing career exploration opportunities, providing an array of summer learning possibilities and for implementing standards-based grading and reporting that relies on much more than a letter or number to chart student growth.

“Much of the history of public education is on sameness,” says Seibert. “The same number of credits for each diploma, the same number of hours and days for each student, but the people who serve in our schools recognize that every student is uniquely wonderful. So, our goal is to provide a high-quality experience for each student that emphasizes the student's role in identifying his or her unique human potential and then support each of them in pursuing a fulfilling future.”

State Superintendent, Dr. James Lane, plans to visit each of the 15 division this academic year. Here are the divisions recognized by the Board of Education in alphabetical order.

  • Buchanan County Public Schools
  • Goochland County Public Schools
  • Hampton Public Schools
  • Henrico County Public Schools
  • Hopewell Public Schools
  • Loudoun County Public Schools
  • Middlesex County Public Schools
  • Montgomery County Public Schools
  • Poquoson Public Schools
  • Roanoke County Public Schools
  • Salem Public Schools
  • Staunton Public Schools
  • Virginia Beach Public Schools
  • West Point Public Schools
  • York County Public Schools

To earn the School Division of Innovation designation, a local school board must submit a plan that meets criteria set forth in the Board of Education regulations governing the recognition program. Divisions earning the designation must submit an annual report to the Virginia Department of Education on progress toward meeting the goals and performance targets in their plans. Divisions retain the School Division of Innovation designation for three years.

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