Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: August 31, 2018
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Ofirah Yheskel, | Office of the Secretary of Education: Chidi Uche,

Northam Administration Announces New Members of Standards of Learning Innovation Committee

RICHMOND—Today the Northam Administration announced the addition of 10 new members to Virginia’s Standards of Learning (SOL) Innovation Committee.

Originally created by House Bill 930 and signed into law by Governor McAuliffe in 2014, the committee’s purpose is to provide the Board of Education and General Assembly with recommendations on changes to the SOL assessments, authentic individual student growth measures, alignment between the Standards of Learning and assessment, and ways to encourage innovative teaching in the classroom. New committee members were selected by Secretary of Education Atif Qarni.

In recent years, the committee has put forward several proposals, many of which have been approved and adopted. Among these recommendations was the Profile of a Graduate, a new Virginia Assessment System Framework and performance-based assessments.

“The SOL Innovation Committee has done tremendous work over the years to make recommendations which have modernized Virginia’s education system,” said Governor Northam. “We thank those members whose terms have ended for their dedication and service to improving our Standards of Learning. We need systems in place to best measure the progress of our students and to ensure accountability, and I know this talented group will continue to find ways to provide every student in the Commonwealth with a great shot at success in life. I look forward to working with them as they chart out the next phase of their work.”

Several SOL Innovation Committee recommendations were adopted by the state Board of Education last year when the Board revised the Commonwealth’s accreditation standards. These include awarding school credit for students making progress toward grave-level proficiency and increasing the focus in high school on skills referred to as the “Five C’s”: critical thinking, collaboration, communications, citizenship and creativity.

“Virginia’s schools have a duty to prepare students to combat challenges head on, by equipping them with both content knowledge and critical 21st century readiness skills. The Profile of a Virginia Graduate already requires that students demonstrate core competencies like critical thinking, collaboration, creative thinking, communication and citizenship,” said Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “As a committee, our hope is to give thoughtful consideration to how we can better provide innovative learning experiences to all students in the classroom.”

“When I think about the best teachers I had, I remember the teachers who really challenged me to open my mind and think critically about things in ways I never had before,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane. “This is the kind of deeper learning we want all students to experience, and I look forward to working with the SOL Innovation Committee and the Board of Education to achieve this goal.”

The SOL Innovation Committee will hold its first meeting of the Northam administration on Tuesday, October 9, 2018 in Richmond, Virginia.

New Members of the Committee:

  • Pamela Davis, Elementary School Principal, Bristol Virginia Public Schools 
  • Heather Hurley, Personalized Learning Supervisor, Arlington Public Schools
  • Keesha Jackson-Muir, Elementary School Principal, Fairfax County Public Schools
  • Laura Feichtinger McGrath, ESL Coordinator, Harrisonburg City Public Schools
  • Dalia Palchik, Member, Fairfax County School Board
  • Charles Ronco, Teacher, Prince William County Schools
  • Gary Simms Sr., Senior Technology Strategy Consultant, Wells Fargo
  • Zuzana Steen, Academic and Community Relations Manager, Micron Technology
  • Melany Stowe, Assistant Director of Academics and Communications, New College Institute
  • Nancy Sweat, Executive Director, PK-12 Curriculum and Development, Newport News Public Schools

Reappointed and Continuing Term Members of the Committee:

  • Dr. Donna Alexander, Vice President of Instruction and Student Development, Rappahannock Community College
  • Dr. Robert Benson, Superintendent, King George County Schools
  • Dr. Valerie Bowman, Pediatrician, Bon Secours Developmental and Special Needs Pediatrics
  • Michael Davidson, Principal, Smyth County Public Schools
  • Dr. Francisco Durán, Chief Academic Officer, Fairfax County Public Schools
  • Jim Gallagher, Supervisor of Student Services, Amherst County Public Schools
  • Linda Grubba, School Counselor, Campbell County Public Schools
  • Linda Hyslop, Member, Hopewell City School Board
  • Jim Livingston, Teacher, Prince William County Public Schools
  • Dr. Laurie McCullough, Executive Director, Virginia Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
  • Dr. Pat Murphy, Superintendent, Arlington Public Schools
  • Ting-Yi Oei, retired teacher and administrator, Fairfax and Loudoun County Public Schools
  • Dr. Jennifer Parish, Superintendent, Poquoson City Public Schools
  • Todd Putney, Vice President of Human Resources, Medical Facilities of America
  • Dr. Stewart Roberson, Chair, SOL Innovation Committee and Chief Executive Officer, Moseley Architects
  • Bobby Shockley, Assistant Principal, Richmond Public Schools
  • Delegate Jeion Ward, retired teacher and President, Hampton Federation of Teachers

The committee includes representatives from the General Assembly. Members of the House of Delegates are appointed by the Speaker of the House and members of the Senate appointed by the President of the Senate.

Members of the Virginia House of Delegates:

  • Delegate David Bulova
  • Delegate Glenn R. Davis, Jr.
  • Delegate Roxann Robinson
  • Delegate Steven Landes

Members of the Senate of Virginia:

  • Senator Stephen D. Newman
  • Senator Ryan McDougle
  • Senator Jeremy McPike

Dr. James Lane, State Superintendent of Public Instruction; Daniel Gecker, President of the Virginia Board of Education; and Atif Qarni, Secretary of Education serve on the committee as ex officio members.

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