RICHMOND — The state Board of Education last week officially recognized Radford Public Schools as a “School Division of Innovation” for designing and implementing alternatives to traditional instructional and school management practices to improve student learning and promote college and career readiness and good citizenship.
According to the Virginia Department of Education, Radford’s innovation involves the integration of STEM — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — content and computational thinking throughout the K-12 curriculum to create well-defined career pathways for students and to produce “life-ready” graduates.
“The Board of Education’s regulations and standards allow for innovation and flexibility,” said state board of education vice president Vice President Tammy Mann. “The board applauds Radford Public Schools for the houghtfulness of its plan, and we look forward to following the division’s progress through implementation.”
Mann presided over the board’s April 20 business meeting in Richmond.
The plan as approved by the state board includes the waiver of elementary and middle school history and social science Standards of Learning assessments. Instead, students in grades 3-8 will demonstrate acquisition of required content through performance assessments and integrated exhibitions. In addition, all high school seniors will be required to complete a capstone project before graduating.
Radford University, Virginia Tech, and New River Community College are supporting the school division by providing relevant resources and experiences for students and teachers.
“The School Division of Innovation designation program is an opportunity for Virginia’s 132 school divisions to become laboratories of innovation and exchange creative and promising strategies to promote learning and improve student outcomes,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow said.
To earn the School Division of Innovation designation, a local school board must submit a plan meeting criteria set forth in the Board of Education regulations governing the recognition program. Radford is the 21st division recognized as a School Division of Innovation since the program was authorized by the 2017 General Assembly.