Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia Wright announced March 11 that she will retire from her position in May, ending a roughly six-year run in charge of the state education department.
Wright, who was appointed by former Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, in 2008 and reappointed by former Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, has worked at the Virginia Department of Education for just over 28 years and in public education for 38 years. She’ll leave her post May 1. In a statement, Wright said she was grateful for the support she received from many officials in state government, both Democrats and Republicans, during her time at the department.
Recalling her time at the department, Wright said one of the most crucial decisions the state Board of Education made was in 2010, when it accepted her recommendation not to adopt the Common Core State Standards.
“Looking back, I remain convinced that this was the right decision for our students, teachers and schools,” she said in her statement. “Virginia schools are now in their third year of implementing college- and career-ready standards and assessments, and we are already seeing progress as more and more students and schools meet these higher expectations for learning and achievement in all content areas.”
Wright also highlighted the state’s high ranking in the share of its students who qualify for college credit based on Advanced Placement exams.
In his own statement, first-year Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, praised her work from the time she was a math teacher, and added, “Pat is living proof of the opportunity our schools can offer students and educators across the Commonwealth. Few have made a greater difference in the lives of Virginians than Pat Wright has.”
The superintendent is leaving at a time when key education policies in the state could undergo significant change. Districts have sued to overturn a law McDonnell signed last year that would allow a state to take over certain underperforming schools. McAuliffe, meanwhile, opposes A-F accountability in the state, which also became law on McDonnell’s watch. And Virginia is poised to change its state assessments, the Standards of Learning exams, by reducing the testing load on students.
A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.