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Professor Named to Virginia SOL Innovation Committee

| July 2, 2014

Dr. Jenny Sue Flannagan.

Leading science educator, Dr. Jenny Sue Flannagan, associate professor in Regent University’s School of Education (SOE), has been appointed by the Virginia Governor’s administration to serve on the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) Innovation Committee.

After reviewing applications and stakeholder recommendations, Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton selected committee members, who were announced by Governor Terry McAuliffe on Monday, June 30. The committee will take a comprehensive look at Virginia's SOL system and make recommendations to the state Board of Education and the Virginia General Assembly on ways to reform SOL assessments, measure student growth, and encourage innovative teaching in the classroom.

"I hope to contribute my love and passion for science education and for the development of high quality curriculum and instruction," said Flannagan, who is also president-elect of the Virginia Association of Science Teachers and director of the Martinson Center for Mathematics and Science at Regent.

"Right now the conversation is about assessment reform, but we must remember that assessment is inseparable from curriculum and instruction. Assessment is the tool used to ensure students are learning," she continued. "Curriculum must be aligned with assessment and instruction and vise versa. We have to ensure all school divisions are capable of developing high quality curriculum, assessment and instruction to continue the rich history of success Virginia has experienced since the release of the SOLs in 1995."

Virginia has been considered among the top states in developing and measuring learning standards for K-12 education for two decades, and educators now want to take the standards to the next level in terms of rigor and current realities for knowledge and skills that students need. During the General Assembly's 2014 legislative session, bipartisan support led to some initial SOL reforms by reducing the number of tests that students must take. The new Innovation Committee will continue the reform process.

Flannagan described how her desire to influence student learning prompted her to submit an application for the committee.

"To prepare students to succeed in a global economy, students must encounter learning experiences that mirror the work of experts in the real world. Science can be an integral part of those learning experiences. Children are born curious and ready to learn. Beginning in kindergarten, science simply provides context for the questions they have already been asking," she explained. "Nothing in the real world occurs outside of context. When we write, we write for a purpose. Scientists write to communicate findings from their research. Math skills are used to explain natural phenomena. That's why teaching students isolated skills outside of context does not mirror what happens naturally.

"Serving on this committee will be an opportunity to contribute ideas and suggestions to seeing Virginia move towards learning opportunities that are integrated and allow students to be problem solvers."

Since joining the Regent faculty fulltime in 2007, Flannagan has earned a statewide reputation among her peers for enhancing teacher effectiveness by training teachers in using creative instructional methods that promote learning.

"Dr. Flannagan has become a recognized leader in science education in Virginia, especially at the K-8 grade level," said Dr. Alan Arroyo, dean of SOE. "She will bring a wealth of knowledge, perspective and energy to this prestigious group and serve the Commonwealth with excellence. She will especially represent Regent with integrity, a collaborative attitude, and a heart for what students need."

Before joining Regent full time, Flannagan was an adjunct faculty member and elementary science coordinator for Virginia Beach City Public Schools where she developed curriculum and professional development programs for K-5 teachers. She also served as the middle school science coordinator for the division and taught science in grades 6-12 in Virginia Beach City Public Schools.

Learn more about Regent University's School of Education.

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Mindy Hughes, Public Relations

Phone: 757.352.4095 Fax: 757.352.4888

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