K-12 Advisory Council History
Formed in November 2001, the Council featured 11 founding members (Chesterfield, Fairfax, Hanover, Hopewell, King and Queen, Manassas Park, Orange, Prince Edward, Roanoke City, Staunton, and Virginia Beach). In the first several months, Council members identified that there were partnership opportunities that existed through the leveraging of the resources at UVA and within the member districts. Two of the more significant accomplishments of the organization have been the Statewide Communities of Practice for Excellence (SCOPE) program and an annual policy summit.
Statewide Communities of Practice for Excellence (SCOPE)
The greatest opportunity for partnerships imagined early on is one that has become the signature project of the Council, the Statewide Communities of Practice for Excellence (SCOPE). Born out of a recognition that leadership and funding provided previously by the state would not be available to address the increasing challenge of succession management, the founding members committed to the creation of a two-year cohort experience for emerging leaders within their districts. From SCOPE’s inception, cohort experiences continue to be facilitated by UVA leaders and the content continues to be delivered by Council members and UVA faculty. The expense of developing these cohorts of promising leaders has been largely absorbed by the participating districts.
The SCOPE program will begin its seventeenth cohort in September 2021. Well over 800 Virginia school leaders have graduated from the program and contributed to the leadership capacity of school divisions across the Commonwealth. SCOPE graduates have moved into all levels of leadership positions within Virginia school districts, including superintendent roles.
A more recent and major endeavor by the Council has been the collaboration with the UVA School of Education and Human Development to sponsor annual policy summits. In April 2017 the Council identified the chronic teacher shortage as a topic to examine more deeply through in-depth discussions among concerned stakeholders and to make policy recommendations to address it within the state of Virginia. Given the success of this first event, the UVA K-12 Advisory Council partnered with the School of Education and Human Development (EDH), the Virginia Office of the Secretary of Education, Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and the Virginia Association of School Superintendents (VASS) to host a series of summits including the Teacher Retention Summit (October 2018), the Early Childhood Education Summit (October 2019), and the Virginia Early Literacy Summit (October 2020). In the fall of 2021, the Council and EDH will co-sponsor our fourth summit, the Early Literacy Summit.
The Council has embraced other agendas on a smaller, but equally impactful scale. Among them have been these: School business officers’ certification in partnership with UVA, VASBO, and VASS; mathematics leadership professional development; instructional coaching academies; Leading from Central Office symposia; and others. In addition, the Council’s initiatives have been placed on statewide professional association conference agendas, featured before the Virginia General Assembly, and highlighted in presentations with Chinese delegations visiting UVA.
Council membership has grown steadily since 2001 as invitations have been extended to other districts. Although the EDH provides administrative support, its founding principle has been that no fee should be assessed a member district. Rather, if there is a service that the Council offers, then a fee for service would be assessed. In 2018 the Council began issuing invitations to join the UVA K-12 Advisory Council to all Virginia school superintendents.
At this writing, there are 110 school districts on the UVA K-12 Advisory Council, representing over 100,000 (91%) of Virginia’s school children. The member districts are geographically dispersed across the Commonwealth. There is a strong mix of large, midsize, small, rural, suburban, and urban districts. Largely an organization comprised of active school superintendents, there are other district level and school-based leaders involved. In addition, the Council counts as partners several education affiliates, program consultants and emeritus members. SCOPE graduates are also represented on the Council either as practicing superintendents or as representatives of recent SCOPE cohort graduates.
Most importantly, the Council counts the Dean of the School of Education and Human Development and its outstanding faculty and staff as our leading partners as we serve alongside one another imagining the possibilities that lie ahead for our collaboration.