The Bulletin

Virginia to hold public input sessions on new history standards in October

By: - September 15, 2022 12:02 am

The Virginia Department of Education offices are inside the James Monroe Building in Richmond, Va. (Parker Michels-Boyce/ For the Virginia Mercury)

The Virginia Board of Education plans to finalize new history and social science standards in January after Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration raised concerns with what they said were a number of errors and content issues in a draft.

Education officials also proposed at Wednesday’s work session to begin holding public input sessions on the standards in October, with board-run public hearings to follow in December.

Prior to the delay, the public input process and final approval were expected in September and on Nov. 17, respectively.

“We want the best standards, and so your continued contemplation, Virginia’s continued engagement as contributors and as voices in this is very important,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow, who called the review “tough water to navigate.”

Last month, Balow recommended against the board moving the draft standards forward for review, instead urging members to allow the proposal to undergo further development by Virginians and national experts prior to its acceptance.

The standards outline Virginia’s expectations for student learning in K-12 history and social science education and are assessed through the Standards of Learning tests. Virginia code requires the board to review the standards every seven years to update content and reflect current academic research.

Education officials also proposed splitting up information about courses after concerns were raised that the standards were difficult to read.

The process of reviewing the history and social science standards began nearly two years ago and included repeated meetings by the Board of Education and a committee of experts, as well as public input from over 5,000 commenters. 

Board members spoke at length Wednesday about the changes since the standards were first revised and the scope of the work. 

“We need to have some faith that staff will do an adequate and appropriate first draft, bring it back to the board, and at that point if y’all want to pick it apart and talk about every line, we will spend the time to do that,” said President Daniel Gecker. 

Officials said last month that the standards could go into effect as early as 2024.

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Nathaniel Cline
Nathaniel Cline

Nathaniel is an award-winning journalist who's been covering news across the country since 2007, including politics at The Loudoun Times-Mirror and The Northern Neck News in Virginia as well as sports for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio. He has also hosted podcasts, worked as a television analyst for Spectrum Sports, and appeared as a panelist for conferences and educational programs. A graduate of Bowie State University, Nathaniel grew up in Hawaii and the United Kingdom as a military brat. Five things he must have before leaving home: his cellphone, Black Panther water bottle, hand sanitizer, wedding ring and Philadelphia Eagles keychain.