HJR 170: Commission on Access and Diversity in Higher Education
July 19, 2002
September 23, 2002
November 14, 2002
The commission held its first
meeting of the interim to continue its work concerning closing the academic
achievement gap between African-American and other race students, the
supply and demand of classroom teachers, the diversity of faculty and
staff at public colleges and universities, the admission, persistence,
and retention rates of minority students, No Child Left Behind, P.L. 107-110,
and the Accord Between the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil
Rights and the Commonwealth.
The U. S. Supreme Court decision
in United States v. Fordice, 112 S.Ct. 2727 (1992) required the
dismantling of vestiges of the dual system of public higher education
in the nation. As a result of this decision, the U.S. Department of Education's
Office for Civil Rights was directed to review all of the Adams
states for compliance with the Court's ruling in Fordice.
Upon the recommendation of the Joint Subcommittee Studying the Status
of and Need for Academic Preparation, Financial Assistance, and Incentive
Programs to Encourage Minorities to Pursue Postsecondary Education and
Training (HJR 638, 1993), the Commission on Access and Diversity in Higher
Education, formerly referred to as the Commission on the Impact of Certain
Federal Court Decisions on the Common-wealth's Institutions of Higher
Education (Fordice), was established in 1996, pursuant to HJR 184.
The commission was directed, among other things, to: study issues pertaining
to the access and affordability of higher education for minority students;
examine the continuum of education in Virginia relative to the under-representation
of African- American students in higher education; evaluate college recruitment
and admission criteria, retention rates, and factors affecting minority
student persistence; review the legal obligations upon the Commonwealth
imposed by federal and state court decisions on the desegregation of public
colleges and universities; and recommend appropriate strategies to ensure
compliance with applicable federal and state court decisions, laws, and
Continued in 1998 as the Commission
on Access and Diversity in Higher Education during the federal civil rights
review of the Commonwealth, the commission was directed to include in
its deliberations consideration of ways to address the supply and demand
for classroom teachers, particularly the recruitment and retention of
minority teachers, and to act as liaison between the General Assembly
and the U.S. Office for Civil Rights.
Since 1998, the commission has
concentrated on addressing the factors associated with the under-representation
of minority students in higher education, the continuum of public education,
K-20, the academic preparation of minority students, establishing a blueprint
for closing the academic achievement gap, the supply and demand of classroom
teachers, ways to promote faculty diversity, reviewing the experience
of other states in these areas, and identifying successful strategies
to address these problems. Monitoring the federal civil rights review
by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights also
claimed a considerable amount of the commission's attention.
On November 7, 2001, the Governor,
Virginia Secretary of Education, and the Office of the Attorney General,
on behalf of the Commonwealth, and the United States Secretary of Education
and other federal officials entered into an accord to conclude the five-year
federal civil rights compliance review precipitated by the Fordice
decision. The agreement reached between the state and federal governments
requires substantial funding, beginning in the 20022004 biennium,
to provide parity between Norfolk State University and Virginia State
University and the other senior state-supported four-year institutions,
and to comply in good faith with other points of agreement. With the signing
of the agreement, the Commonwealth entered a five-year monitoring and
reporting phase required by the U.S. Department of Education to ensure
continuous progress towards the goals enumerated in the agreement, whereby
failure of the Commonwealth to adhere to the terms of the agreement may
result in the loss of federal funds and costly litigation brought by the
U.S. Department of Justice.
The Deputy Secretary for the
U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, the Secretary
of Education, and the Deputy Solicitor of the Attorney General's
Office briefed the commission concerning the status of the accord. It
was noted that a five-year monitoring and reporting phase has begun in
which Virginia would have to submit regular reports to the federal government
detailing how the terms of the accord for which it is responsible are
being accomplished. Of particular interest to the commission was information
pertaining to budget reductions made by the 2002 General Assembly and
Virginia's ability to comply with the accord. In addition, the deputy
solicitor apprised the commission of guidance provided to public institutions
of higher education relative to the use of racial preferences, the provisions
of the accord, and the Center for Equality's Report, Racial Discrimination
Found at Virginia Law Schools.
The Secretary of Education reviewed
the funding provided in the 20022004 biennium budget to support
the accord and announced the inauguration of the Governor's Partnership
for Achieving Successful Schools (PASS), noting that it will assist Virginia
in raising the academic achievement of students in low-performing schools,
a requirement of No Child Left Behind, the new federal school reform law.
A presentation was given by the staff of the Department of Education relating
to the academic achievement of minority students in Virginia and the status
of the implementation of the requirement to provide information on the
achievements and contributions of racial, ethnic, and disabled populations
in the Standards of Learning for social studies.
A discussion ensued regarding
the State Council of Higher Education's executive director's
presentation pertaining to efforts underway in higher education to ensure
college access and affordability. These efforts include the development
of a statewide strategic and coordinated plan to promote academic preparation
of students, early information to students and their parents regarding
Virginia's higher education system, admissions requirements, financial
aid opportunities and programs to target first-generation and at-risk
students, a web-based student advising system, and supportive public policies.
The commission was invited to
send representatives to the bi-annual Education Retreat hosted by the
House Committee on Education and the Senate Committee on Education and
Health on September 10-12, 2002, at Westmoreland State Park. The education
retreat will focus on briefing legislative members concerning the new
federal ESEA, No Child Left Behind. Following this discussion, the staff
presented the status report and study plan for the 2002 interim. The commission
also agreed to participate in the American Council on Education's
Women of Color Conference to be held later during the year.
The thematic foci of the meeting
included a report on the education retreat, closing the academic achievement
gap K-12, the Governor's Partnership for Achieving Successful Schools
(PASS), efforts of institutions of higher education to close the academic
achievement gap, and the admission and retention rates of minority students
at state colleges and universities.
In response to the need to raise
academic achievement, Virginia led the nation in school reform initiatives,
adopting in 1995 Standards of Learning in English, mathematics, science,
and history and social science. Assessment results for these standards
in 1998 indicated that only 39 schools (2 percent of 134 school divisions)
were fully accredited. However, by 2001, Standards of Learning assessments
showed that 731 schools or 40 percent were fully accredited, 558 (30 percent)
met the state's progress benchmarks, and 117 schools (7 percent)
remained in the lowest category, Accredited with Warning. Of this number,
34 schools are Title I (high-poverty) schools with warnings in English
and/or mathematics for the second consecutive year.
The Department of Education's
director of the Office of School Improvement explained that PASS, a partnership
between schools, parents, businesses, and the community, was initiated
to give special attention and assistance to at-risk schools. The following
principles constitute the foundation of PASS:
- Engage businesses,
community groups and individual citizens as partners.
- Improve reading and
mathematics achievement in schools currently accredited with warning.
- Build the capacity
of schools to maintain high student achievement.
- Encourage parents
to provide essential support in the home.
This program has targeted more
than 100 schools with an academic warning. It was noted that in 90 percent
of the schools accredited with warning, the curriculum often is not fully
aligned with the Standards of Learning, data on student achievement are
not used in making instructional decisions, and 34 Title I (high-poverty)
schools are already subject to school improvement sanctions under the
new federal law, No Child Left Behind. These schools are eligible to receive
enhanced services from visiting academic review teams. Thirty-four of
these schools have been designated as PASS Priority Schools, indicating
that they will receive additional intervention and follow-up to track
the progress made by students, teachers, and administrators.
Schools accredited with warning
have been categorized according to their needs under four models of intervention
Model I Intervention
- Enhanced academic review
provides staff development programs designed to address the schools'
areas of academic weakness.
- Academic review team leaders
maintain relationships with principals of reviewed schools to assist
in the implementation of school improvement plans.
Model II Intervention
- PASS instructional assistance
teams target 26 of the 34 PASS priority schools to achieve immediate
increases in student achievement in reading and mathematics.
- Teams are led by a principal
from a cooperating school division with a record of raising the academic
achievement of at-risk students. Other team members include teachers
with expertise in reading and mathematics.
- The coordinating team conducts
intensive summer teacher institutes followed by 12 days of technical
assistance during the school year.
- The coordinating team ensures
that curriculum is aligned with the Standards of Learning and that
assessment data is analyzed to improve instruction.
- Regular testing (every
9 weeks) is conducted to assess progress.
Model III Intervention
- Full-time support teams
are assigned to two PASS priority schools in both Richmond and Portsmouth.
- Faculty receives professional-development
services tailored to each school's instructional needs.
- Students receive tutoring
in reading and mathematics, and are paired with mentors for support
- Families are offered adult
- Regular testing (every
9 weeks) is conducted to assess progress.
- Selected schools in both
Portsmouth and Richmond are targeted for Model III Intervention.
Model IV Intervention
- Division-wide intervention
is provided to all Petersburg public schools through an intervention
and assistance plan developed by the Appalachian Educational Laboratory
and the Virginia Department of Education.
- A division-level intervention
coordinator is designated to provide assistance to the central office
and school-level coordinators for each school.
- Includes 10 schools accredited
with warning including four PASS priority schools.
Admissions and Retention Rates
The director of Institutional
Research and Technology Services and the senior associate for academic
affairs of the State Council on Higher Education addressed the commission
concerning the current data, data trends, and factors that impact college
admissions and retention rates for minority students at Virginia institutions
of higher education. It is projected that in the next 10 years, Virginia's
population will grow by eight percent (548,000). Between 2001 and 2010,
the number of public high school graduates is expected to increase by
10 percent (6,500), and minority students will comprise 37 percent of
these graduates by 2007. However, data concerning high school graduation
and college participation rates by race and ethnicity reveal disparity
between the races. This disparity is attributed, in part, to family income,
poor academic achievement, admission policies, family stability and level
of education, economic deprivation, campus climate, and the lack of mentoring,
financial aid, family and community support systems. Whereas no one factor
dooms an individual to failure, the effects of multiple negative indicators
exact a toll that is not easily overcome. Attainment of a college education
has added significance in the 21st century. Optimal social and economic
benefits accrue to individuals and society when minorities are academically
prepared for life's pursuits.
No Child Left Behind
On January 8, 2002, President
Bush signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). No Child
Left Behind is considered historic legislation because it requires the
most sweeping changes in public education since the Elementary and Secondary
Education Act was enacted in 1965, and it garnered unprecedented bipartisan
support. This new law builds upon educational reforms instituted following
the release of the report, A Nation At Risk, and provides a plan
for comprehensive education reform for grades K-12 in the public schools
throughout the nation. This new law rests upon four reform principles:
accountability, flexibility, research-based reforms, and parental options.
Virginia has met the requirement
to develop state standards through the Standards of Learning (SOLs), which
included standards for reading, mathematics, and science. Standards for
student achievement have also been aligned with the content standards.
However, Virginia must develop or adopt tests for grades 4, 6, and 7 in
mathematics, reading or language arts. Tests for science must be implemented
by the 20072008 school year for a one-time administration in grades
3 through 5, 6 through 9, and 10 through 12. Science tests for grades
3, 5, and 8 and high school are already in place.
Other requirements of all states
include: (i) participation in the National Assessment of Educational Progress
(NAEP); (ii) annual school and school division report cards by 20022003,
and later, a state report card due to Virginia's receipt of Title
I funds; (iii) school support and recognition systems; and (iv) qualified
teachers. With the school improvement plans and the Governor's PASS
program, a part of the school support and recognition systems is in place.
Teacher quality is recognized as essential to student achievement. By
the 20022003 school year, (i) any new teacher hired with Title I
funds must meet the new "highly qualified" teacher requirements,
(ii) new paraprofessionals hired with Title I funds must meet new standards
of qualityat least an associate degree, and (iii) states and school
districts must report their progress toward ensuring that all teachers
are highly qualified. By the 20052006 school year, all teachers
must be "highly qualified" in the subjects they teach, and all
paraprofessionals working in programs supported by Title I funds must
meet the requirements of "highly qualified." No Child Left Behind
ties "highly qualified" to full licensure by the state, bachelor's
degree, passage of a state-required examination to demonstrate subject
knowledge and teaching skills, and professional development. Given the
shortage of teachers, particularly in the critical teaching shortage disciplines
and in certain geographic areas, meeting this requirement may pose a significant
challenge for many states, including Virginia.
The third meeting of the interim
was devoted to an in-depth analysis of the causes of and solutions to
the academic achievement gap, national trends in faculty diversity, factors
that contribute to the low representation of minorities among faculty
and in administrative positions at public colleges and universities, the
accord and the impact of budget reductions, progress in test scores among
minority students in grades K-12, articulation programs between two-year
and four-year public institutions of higher education, the Virginia Women's
Institute for Leadership, the nexus between preschool education and academic
achievement, provisions of No Child Left Behind related to the commission's
work, implementation of No Child Left Behind in Virginia, and appointment
of a citizens advisory task force to assist the commission in its work.
Improving Schools for African-American
The director of the U.S.
Department of Education's Mid-Atlantic Equity Center, first citing
ways in which state legislatures can improve the education of African-American
students, discussed four major causes of the academic achievement gap
between African-American and other race students. She noted that
one of the still prevalent
underlying erroneous and harmful beliefs among teachers and students
is that African-American children come to school with cultural deficits,
which gets translated into assumptions about the cognitive abilities
of such children and education practices such as tracking and assigning
these children to special education classes at disproportionately higher
levels than their peers in other ethnic and cultural groups. The school's
negative perception of the cognitive abilities of African-American children
creates a climate of low expectations and low performance. For too many
black students school is simply the place where, more concertedly, persistently,
and authoritatively than anywhere else in society, they learn how little
valued they are.
Too many African-American students
lack exposure to a rigorous academic curriculum. Frequently, minority
students are tracked into low-ability groups with the least qualified
teachers and misidentified for special education classes. Setting measurable
achievement goals driven by data that is related to increased academic
achievement and closing existing academic gaps should be a priority. Often,
teachers lack experiences with diversity outside of the classroom and
their knowledge about the culture of other racial and ethnic people is
limited. Teachers emerging from teacher education programs are more likely
to have been trained by white middle-class professors or by older faculty
who have less experience in teaching children from diverse cultures. Consequently,
these teachers enter urban, racially, ethnically, economically, and linguistically
mixed classrooms ill-prepared to teach a diverse group of students. Commenting
further, she noted that the unequal distribution of resources perpetuates
the academic achievement gap. School systems serving poor and disadvantaged
students require more resources due to the severity of the problems that
must be addressed.
The following suggestions were
offered as ways in which state legislatures can improve the education
of African-American students and thereby close the academic achievement
- End the practice of (i) out-of-
field teaching, (ii) the unequal distribution of resources, and (iii)
assigning the most inexperienced and least qualified teachers to schools
with the most disadvantaged students.
- Eliminate tracking.
- Require (i) an academically
rigorous curriculum for African-American students, (ii) beginning teachers
to have mentors and reduced teaching loads, and (iii) teachers to have
field teaching experience with students from diverse cultures.
Data from the American
Council on Education indicate that although considerable work remains
to improve the representation of racial and ethnic minorities in higher
education, student bodies at colleges and universities are now more diverse
than ever before. By 2015, 80 percent of the anticipated 2.6 million new
college students will be from under-represented racial groups. Nationwide,
the number of undergraduate minority students enrolled in colleges and
universities will increase from 29.4 percent to 37.2 percent. While institutions
have made efforts to diversify their campuses, racial and ethnic minorities
remain under-represented among the faculty. Faculty are not evenly distributed
across institutional type, disciplines, or academic ranks. African-Americans
are concentrated in lower faculty ranks; Hispanics are largely employed
at two-year institutions; and Asian-Americans comprise only 0.9 percent
of the CEO positions at colleges and universities. The primary obstacle
to achieving faculty diversity is the academy's history of exclusion
and racism. In addition, myths and stereotypes about the recruitment of
faculty of color help to maintain the status quo. A diverse faculty offers
certain academic, civic, and economic benefits. Instruction by a diverse
faculty can strengthen scholarship and expose students and colleagues
to other perspectives and experiences. Institutions that offer diverse
interactions and exchange inside and outside the classroom better prepare
their students for the marketplace of ideas, and provide them the competitive
skills needed for success in the global community.
The role of state policy-makers
in promoting faculty diversity includes (i) strong, visible support, (ii)
a comprehensive examination of the recruitment and retention practices
of faculty of color at public institutions of higher education, (iii)
encouraging institutions to assess their campus climate, hiring practices
and protocols, and tenure and promotion protocols, and (iv) continued
support of the Southern Regional Education Board's Doctoral Scholars
Representatives of the State
Council of Higher Education and the Virginia Community College System
presented Virginia-specific information concerning faculty diversity,
enrollment and retention rates of minority students at community colleges,
the preparation of paraprofessionals as required by No Child Left Behind,
and articulation programs between two-year and four-year institutions.
Regarding faculty diversity, it was noted that diversity plays a role
in increasing cognitive learning, complex thinking, and personal development,
more effective mentoring of minority students, and the increase in an
institution's ability to attract minority students into doctoral
programs. Minority faculty are more likely to be untenured and be paid
at lower average salaries than their white counterparts. The stereotypes
of the caliber of minority scholarship negatively impact faculty promotion
opportunities. Further, doctoral programs are not producing sufficient
numbers of African-American scholars to replace retiring faculty of color.
The Virginia Community College
System has experienced over 200 percent growth since 1988, and since 1969,
minority student enrollments have increased from 1 in 10 in the early
1970s to 1 in 3 students currently. Retention has improved for all students,
and blacks have shown improvement across all retention measures, although
their percentage is below that of other minority groups. Graduation rates
have decreased for all students since 1989; however, recent data show
that the decline has begun to reverse for most minorities and black students.
A smaller percentage of minorities transfer to four-year colleges and
universities. Only 1 in 5 black students who persist and study for at
least one semester transfer to four-year institutions. Since 1997, remedial
students have increased more than 25 percent. In fall 2001, 42 percent
of remedial students were minorities, whereas 18 percent of community
college students were enrolled in remedial courses. The Virginia Community
College System is implementing an articulation program for teacher education
with certain four-year institutions. It is envisioned that this program
will be the conduit for training paraprofessionals for the classroom and
students who would be prepared to transfer to a teacher education program
at a four-year institution.
Monitoring the Accord
The first and second
reports on the status of the Common-wealth's implementation of the
accord signed in November 2001 were submitted to the U.S. Department of
Education's Office for Civil Rights on January 31, 2002, and on July
31, 2002, respectively, by the Office of the Attorney General. The deputy
solicitor, commenting on the reports, indicated the Commonwealth's
commitment to accomplishing substantial program and facility enhancements
at Virginia State University and Norfolk State University. Governor Gilmore's
proposed budget included $21.8 million in new money for the institutions,
and a Higher Education Bond Initiative for the 21st Century to provide
funding for the capital improvement projects at the schools. However,
the fiscal crisis gripping the Commonwealth has required across-the-board
budget cuts for all state agencies. Institutions of higher education were
given permission to raise tuition to offset the resulting lost revenue.
Although these reductions were limited at Norfolk State University and
Virginia State University, there is concern that further reductions in
state funding to these institutions may jeopardize the Com-monwealth's
ability to maintain good faith compliance with the accord.
Virginia Women's Institute for Leadership,
Mary Baldwin College
Students from the Virginia
Women's Institute for Leadership at Mary Baldwin College, accompanied
by the Institute's director and the associate vice-president for
college relations, spoke to the commission regarding their experiences
at the school. The Institute is a holistic leadership program designed
for women and is the only all-female Corps of Cadets in the world. Students
develop a broad range of leadership styles to prepare them for success
in all arenas. The curriculum is demanding and cadets may choose to commission
in the U.S. Armed Forces. The corps provides significant opportunities
for women of color, who constitute 36 percent of the Institute's
Student Progress on SOLs
The Board of Education
president presented recent data on the National Assessment of Education
Progress (NAEP) and the Standards of Learning (SOL) assessments which
indicate improvement in the academic achievement of African-American students.
Noteworthy were gains in test scores for minority students on the SOL
assessments for third and fifth grade reading, fifth grade writing and
math, and fourth and eighth grade math on NAEP. Minority students in Virginia
had the highest gain in the nation in fourth grade math and had the third
highest gains in eighth grade math.
Teacher Quality, Supply and Demand
The quality of teaching in the
classroom is the single most important school factor in improving student
achievement, according to the report of the Board of Education and the
State Council of Higher Education's Committee to Enhance the K-12
Teaching Profession in Virginia. No Child Left Behind requires all public
schools in the nation to place "highly qualified" teachers in
the classroom. However, the associate superintendent for teacher education
and licensure indicated in his presentation that given the expected decline
in the supply of classroom teachers in the Commonwealth between 2000 and
2015, meeting the new federal requirement is a challenge. In 2001, school
divisions reported 4,136 vacancies and teachers instructing outside their
area of endorsement, nearly triple the number in 1999. The average teacher
salary in Virginia ranked third among the 16 member Southern Regional
Education Board states in the 1989-1990 school year. In the 2001-2002
school year, 79 percent of Virginia's school divisions had salaries
below $35,000 for teachers with 10 years of experience. Nationally, teachers
who enter the profession without preparation leave at rates of nearly
60 percent within the first two years of teaching and produce lower student
achievement while they are teachers. Almost 39 percent of teachers nationally
leave the profession within five years, and teacher attrition is acute
in high poverty urban and rural school systems. Strategies to ensure competent,
qualified teachers in every classroom include the development of a comprehensive
database to support Virginia's commitment to teacher quality, the
expansion of efforts to attract and retain competent, caring, and qualified
teachers, providing high-quality teacher education programs for every
teacher candidate, and designing methods to evaluate the effectiveness
of teacher quality initiatives.
Nexus Between Preschool Education and
Research indicates a
correlation between quality preschool education programs and academic
achievement. A quality preschool education program consists of a developmentally
appropriate curriculum, a positive learning environment, qualified staff,
early intervention, and parent involvement. Richmond public schools' coordinator
for Head Start Programs briefed the commission on the benefits of a quality
preschool education programs and the link to good academic performance.
Studies show that former preschool children demonstrate good academic
progress in the first four years of public school in reading and math
skills. By the end of the second and third grade, these students perform
essentially at the national average. Children who have had the advantage
of a quality preschool education program continue to advance to levels
at and slightly above the national average in second and third grades.
These children also show positive social and behavioral adjustment and
with good health care, 77 percent of them are rated as having excellent
or very good health, which limits chronic conditions and health problems
that can impede learning. Quality preschool education programs have a
positive effect on the families of children that they serve. Many families
experience a decreased need for public assistance, become more self-sufficient,
improve their living conditions, and actively participate in school life
with their children.
The meeting was concluded with
the presentation of staff reports concerning other legislative studies
and No Child Left Behind that were requested by the commission. The commission
held its last meeting of the interim on December 10, 2002.
The Hon. Beverly J. Sherwood
The Hon. Frederick M. Quayle
For information, contact:
Brenda H. Edwards
Division of Legislative Services
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