RICHMOND, Va. – Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven Staples will retire as Virginia’s top public school administrator, effective January 1, 2018.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve in this capacity, and I will be forever grateful to so many for their advice, encouragement and support during my time in this post,” Staples said Thursday in a message to Virginia Department of Education staff.
Staples was appointed by Governor Terry McAuliffe as the commonwealth’s chief school officer on March 31, 2014.
Under Staples’ leadership, the Virginia Department of Education implemented reforms of the commonwealth’s school accreditation system to reduce the amount of standardized testing and recognize the progress of schools toward full accreditation.
“I believe we have corrected an overemphasis on standardized testing while maintaining accountability for effective instruction and achievement,” Staples said. “And we are creating room for the innovation, deeper learning and the 21st-century skills demanded by parents, higher education and employers.”
He supported the state Board of Education to develop a comprehensive revision of accreditation standards. Final board approval of the revised regulations is expected in November.
“Steve’s expertise and experience as an educator and administrator were invaluable as the Board of Education charted this new path forward for Virginia’s public schools,” Board of Education President Dan Gecker said. “He helped the board understand how policy impacts practice and the importance of listening to all stakeholders.”
During Staple’s term, the statewide, four-year graduation rate rose above 90 percent. Students also improved their performance on Standards of Learning assessments.
Staples also played a key role in Gov. McAuliffe’s “Classrooms not Courtrooms” initiative to encourage schools to adopt disciplinary practices that address academic, behavioral and social-emotional needs of students while improving the learning environment.
“Steve Staples has championed the importance of continuous improvement for all schools, believing that even high-performing schools must continue to strive for excellence for all students,” said Council of Chief State School Officers Executive Director Chris Minnich.