Beach schools tracking student subgroups on five-year plan to improve

VIRGINIA BEACH — School administrators will soon be able to see how various demographic subgroups are stacking up in the classrooms against goals the district set as part of a five-year plan to improve achievement.

The five-year plan, called Compass to 2020, is supposed to guide policies, learning initiatives and other programs across the division. School Board members received their first update Tuesday on how student progress will be tracked to measure the success of that initiative.

Here are the subgroups that will be watched: students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, multiracial students, and students who are African-American, Asian, Caucasian and Hispanic.

A formula-based “academic equity index” will be used to determine how the subgroups are performing compared to the rest of the student population. The tracking began at the start of this school year.

“A big part of the conversation was around equity,” said Lisa Banicky, the division’s director for innovation and strategic planning.

Schools can access this data beginning Thursday in their school data portfolios to see how their students are performing. The division will be giving the School Board updates on this progress twice a year, usually in February and September.

Some of the data will also be available for the public on the division’s Compass to 2020 page, Banicky said.

Achievement by various subgroups of students has long been tracked in schools. Banicky and Don Robertson, the division’s chief strategy and innovation officer, cited the division’s past work on following the progress of African-American males. Earlier this year, the Beach school district announced it had missed eight of the nine goals for achievement that administrators set in 2012 for that subgroup.

Superintendent Aaron Spence said in February they must continue to address that achievement gap, calling it frustrating to miss most of the goals.

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