A years-long fight between a Loudoun County parent and the Virginia Department of Education over the release of student performance data has come to an end.
A Richmond Circuit Court judge has ruled that VDOE must release Loudoun County Public Schools’ Student Growth Percentile scores by school and by teacher. Brian Davison, a parent of two Loudoun students, has said the scores are a better indicator of students’ year-over-year progress and they would help administrators identify the division’s most effective teachers.
The court also ordered VDOE to pay Davison $35,000 to cover attorney’s fees and other costs.
Davison took the Virginia Department of Education to court in 2014 after his request for Loudoun County Public Schools’ SGP scores by school and teacher was denied. Several groups, including LCPS and the Virginia Education Association, filed petitions to intervene in the case, citing concerns that the information would unfairly target teachers whose students show low progress rates.
In January 2015, Judge Melvin R. Hughes Jr. stated that the scores must be released, but he was initially silent on whether VDOE could conceal teachers’ identities.
But in a final order dated April 12, Hughes said VDOE must release the data and “teacher identifying information” to Davison. He said that VDOE and the Loudoun school system failed to “meet the burden of proof to establish an exemption” under Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act.
Wayde Byard, Loudoun school system’s public information officer, declined to comment on the final ruling.
While Standards of Learning scores indicate whether a student has a minimum proficiency in a given subject, the SGP data illustrates the progress a student has made relative to the progress of students with similar achievement based on reading and mathematics SOL exams, according to a VDOE fact sheet.
Davison said he plans to publish the information on his “VirginiaSGP” Facebook page. Students will not be identified, but some of the teachers will. “I may mask the names of the worst performers when posting rankings/lists but other members of the public can analyze the data themselves to discover who those teachers are,” he said.
Loudoun administrators have cautioned against using the SGP information to assess a school’s or a school district’s quality of instruction. It only tracks students’ progress in math and reading in grades 3-8, and does not account for students who take alternative SOL exams, students who are new to Virginia or those who have transferred schools.