Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples Announces Retirement
RICHMOND, Va. — Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples announced last week that he will retire as Virginia’s top public school administrator, effective January 1, 2018. Staples has served as the commonwealth’s chief school officer since March 31, 2014, when he was appointed by Governor Terry McAuliffe.
“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.
Under Staples’ leadership, the department implemented a series of reforms of the commonwealth’s school accreditation system to reduce the amount of standardized testing and recognize the progress of schools toward full accreditation. Staples also supported the state Board of Education in the development of a comprehensive revision of the accreditation standards designed to encourage continuous improvement for all schools and better prepare graduates for college and careers. Final board approval of the revised regulations is expected in November.
“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.”
“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 Staples’ term as state superintendent, the statewide, four-year graduation rate rose to above 90 percent and students continued to improve their performance on the commonwealth’s rigorous Standards of Learning assessments.
Staples oversaw the expansion of computer-adaptive testing, resulting in shorter reading and mathematics SOL tests for elementary and middle school students. In addition, a new version of the commonwealth’s test-delivery system deployed on Staples’ watch has allowed students to take tests on a wider array of devices, including tablets.
During every year of Staples’ service as state superintendent, the commonwealth earned the top rating from the U.S. Department of Education for improving educational services and outcomes for students with disabilities.
Staples also played a key role in McAuliffe’s “Classrooms not Courtrooms” initiative to encourage schools to adopt disciplinary practices that address the underlying 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.
Prior to his appointment as state superintendent, Staples served as the executive director of the Virginia Association of School Superintendents and on the faculty of William & Mary’s School of Education. Staples was superintendent of York County Public Schools for 16 years and was honored by his peers in 1997 as Virginia Superintendent of the Year.Staples earned Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Education degrees from William & Mary and a Doctorate of Education in Administration and Supervision from Virginia Tech.