State education officials identified 485 schools this week that must develop plans to raise the achievement performance of certain subgroups of students who fell short of federal goals for reading and mathematics.
The list of schools include three from Caroline County – Caroline High School, Caroline Middle School, and Madison Elementary School.
The federal goals and related accountability requirements were established by the state Board of Education as part of Virginia’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) flexibility waiver.
“Relief from unworkable federal mandates is welcome but there must be no retreat from the goal of closing the achievement gap,” Gov. Bob McDonnell said in a statement issued by the Virginia Department of Education. “Every student has a right to attend a school where expectations for learning are high and there is accountability for results.”
“The waivers from NCLB mandates granted by the Obama administration to Virginia and other states mark a dramatic shift in federal education policy,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright said. “We are now able to target school turnaround efforts and resources on those schools where students truly are falling behind.”
“Over the next six years, the lowest-performing students will be expected to make the greatest gains,” said state Board of Education president David M. Foster. “The benchmarks are challenging but achievable and reflect the board’s firm belief that all students are capable of meeting Virginia’s rigorous standards.”
The subgroups differentiate black and Hispanic students, those with disabilities, and English learners.
Other schools in the greater central Virginia and Fredericksburg regions besides Caroline also are being required to develop improvement plans. They are:
• Culpeper County — Culpeper County High, Eastern View High
• Hanover County — Battlefield Park Elementary, Hanover High, Lee-Davis High
• King George County — King George High
• King & Queen County – Lawson-Marriott Elementary
• King William County – Hamilton Holmes Middle
• Louisa County — Louisa County High, Thomas Jefferson Elementary, Trevilians Elementary
• Spotsylvania County — Battlefield Middle, Brock Road Elementary, Massaponax High, Riverview Elementary
Sixty-eight percent, or 1,241 of 1,836 schools, met all of the benchmarks in reading, mathematics and graduation, as did 34 of Virginia’s 132 school divisions. Those school divisions included Spotsylvania County and Colonial Beach.
In addition to those schools that must develop improvement plans, 36 were designated as ‘priority’ schools; they will have to engage state-approved partners to help design and implement reforms that meet state and federal requirements.
Under the NCLB flexibility program announced by the Obama administration a year ago, states must designate the lowest-performing 5 percent of Title I and Title I-eligible schools as ‘priority’ schools. Schools that qualify for federal Title I funding typically serve predominantly poor, underachieving student populations.
In the greater Fredericksburg an central Virginia regions, Colonial Beach High and Central High in King and Queen were designated ‘priority’ schools.
Another 72 schools – the next lowest 10 percent of Title I schools – were designated ‘focus’ schools. They will have to employ a state-approved coach to development and implement strategies to improve student performance.
In the greater Fredericksburg and central Virginia regions, the ‘focus’ schools included:
• Culpeper County — Pearl Sample Elementary, Sycamore Park Elementary
• Fredericksburg — Hugh Mercer Elementary, Lafayette Upper Elementary
• Hanover County — Elmont Elementary
• King George County — Sealston Elementary
• Louisa County — Moss-Nuckols Elementary
The federal goals – called annual measurable objectives or AMOs – represent the percentage of students within each demographic subgroup that must pass Standards of Learning (SOL) tests in reading and mathematics in order to make what the state board and federal Department of Education define as acceptable progress toward reducing achievement gaps over six years.
The AMOs are intended as yearly progress measures for low-performing schools; higher-performing schools are expected to maintain or improve upon current pass rates. High schools must also meet a benchmark for graduation.
Starting points for the 2012-2013 accountability year are based on the actual pass rates of student subgroups in low-performing schools on the 2010-2011 SOL reading assessments and on the rigorous 2011-2012 mathematics SOL tests.