The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

Majority of students at Poe Middle School unable to take a single elective next year

Under expansions to the Virginia Literacy Act, students at the AHS feeder will be placed in remedial classes instead

Fifty to sixty percent of students at Poe Middle School will not be able to take any electives next school year, following an expansion of the Virginia Literacy Act which calls for increased remediation based on reading test scores.

Under a combination of this Act, which affects grades K-8, and Poe’s individualized student reading plan, English Learner levels one through four in addition to anyone reading below the grade level will receive a support English class in their schedule, according to documents obtained by The A-Blast and elective teachers at Poe who chose to speak anonymously off the record.

Students at Poe, which feeds into AHS, at default receive two electives. The concern arises from students already receiving a support class, such as math remediation or Special Education services, who fit either of the requirements.

With this required additional language support, many Poe students are left with no room for an elective.
In addition, many students fit both of the requirements- receiving EL one through four services and reading below grade level- and thus receive two support classes in the place of electives.

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As a result, the majority of students at Poe will be affected.

In a request to comment, Poe principal Jason Panutti denied any change happening, saying, “That is not true. We have open enrollment to all electives classes and will offer the same electives next year as we did this year.”

Poe Director of Student Services Brig Carrie did not reply to a request for comment.

However, as schedules are finalized for next school year and teachers begin to receive their numbers, elective teachers at Poe have noticed significant drops in enrollment of their courses. In some subjects, there are not enough sections for a full time position.

In past years and at most schools, only English Learners levels one and two had to take an extra support class, however under the changes to the VLA, it now affects levels three and four.

According to the school profile, 47% of students at Poe received some sort of English Learner services last school year, up from 38% during the 2021-22 school year, and 35.25% in the 2020-21 year.

It is unclear what the impact will be, if any, at the high schools that Poe feeds into, like AHS, as many electives at the middle school level are the foundation for curriculum and participation for electives at the high school level.

“I just don’t know what the impact is, what decisions have been made, what final decisions have been made at Poe. I don’t know that yet,” said AHS principal Shawn DeRose. “And without that information, I can’t tell you how it’s going to impact us moving forward.”

DeRose cited a conversation with AHS choral director Patrick Vaughn, who he said had “questions and concerns” about enrollment in the choral program.

“And I said, ‘Okay, let’s see what happens and how Poe approaches it and then have that conversation,’” DeRose stated.

Recent spikes in chronic absenteeism have drawn attention to electives, which for many students, studies show, are a reason they come to school.

“I can’t speak to the electives at Poe or really any other school but I do know that at Annandale, right, we do our very best to provide opportunities to have kids have a rich variety of choices when it comes to their elective electives. Whether that’s what we offer here, on another high school campus, and even online,” DeRose said. “The electives, the opportunities that kids have regarding their electives at Annandale, I think are stronger than they ever have been with it with a number of options.”

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About the Contributor
Emily Hawkins
Emily Hawkins, Co-Editor in Chief
Senior Emily Hawkins is thrilled to be this year's Co-Editor in Chief of The A-Blast. This is her third year in the program and was previous In-Depth Editor and Arts Editor. When she’s not at school she enjoys listening to music, reading, crocheting or hanging out with friends. She hopes to pursue further education in university and to study communications and journalism. She is looking forward to a great last year on staff!

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