Blame it on the new science and English sections of the Virginia Standards of Learning test, but Caroline County Public Schools did not make the list of fully accredited schools released Friday by the state Department of Education.
Of the five public schools in Caroline, only Caroline Middle School did not make full accreditation. Bowling Green Elementary, Caroline High School, Lewis and Clark Elementary and Madison Elementary all received full accreditation status, but CMS received an “accredited with warning” status.
For a school now to earn full accreditation, at least 75 percent of students must pass reading and writing SOL tests, and at least 70 percent must pass state assessments in mathematics, science and history. High schools must also meet a benchmark for graduation. Previously, the reading and writing benchmark in middle and high schools was 70 percent and the required pass rate in grade-3 science and history was 50 percent.
The percentage of schools meeting state accreditation standards dropped sharply as a consequence of the introduction of rigorous new reading, writing and science Standards of Learning (SOL) tests during 2012-2013, as well as a second year of results from more challenging mathematics assessments, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) announced today.
Seventy-seven percent, or 1,413, of Virginia’s 1,828 public schools are rated as Fully Accredited for 2013-2014 compared with 93 percent for 2012-2013. The number of schools accredited with warning nearly quadrupled to 395, and six schools have been denied state accreditation because of chronically low achievement.
“Over the last five years, the accreditation bar has been raised through the introduction of more rigorous curriculum standards and challenging new assessments that test students’ problem-solving and critical-thinking skills as well as their content knowledge,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright said. “In addition, the benchmark pass rates required for full accreditation have increased, and high schools must meet goals for improving graduation rates.”
“The focus of the SOL program has shifted to the ambitious but vital goal of college and career readiness for all students,” Board of Education President David M. Foster said. “Temporary declines in SOL scores and accreditation ratings are signs that the commonwealth is expecting more, not that students are learning less.”
The impact of the challenging mathematics tests introduced two years ago grew as three-year averaging provided less mitigation in the calculation of accreditation ratings. Only 257 Fully Accredited schools were able to meet the mathematics benchmark based on achievement over three years, compared with 750 last year. Of the 395 warned schools, 349 are warned in mathematics and 224 are warned in math alone.
The new reading and writing SOL tests were a factor for 146 schools warned in English; 32 of these are Accredited with Warning for 2013-2014 solely because of English. Another 495 schools relied on three-year averaging to reach the benchmark for English and achieve full accreditation.
Of the 37 schools warned in science, eight — all elementary schools — are warned exclusively because of achievement on the new science tests. Eighty-two Fully Accredited schools relied on three-year averaging to meet the benchmark in the content area.
Under Virginia’s SOL accountability program, a school that has been on academic warning for three consecutive years and fails to meet state standards for a fourth consecutive year can apply to the Board of Education for conditional accreditation — if the local school board agrees to reconstitute the school’s leadership, staff, governance or student population. A reconstituted school can retain conditional accreditation for up to three years if it is making acceptable progress toward meeting state standards.
Ten newly opened schools are automatically rated as Conditionally Accredited for 2013-2014.
All schools are fully accredited in 36 of the commonwealth’s 132 school divisions, compared with 87 last year. Divisions with all schools fully accredited (other than new schools that automatically receive conditional accreditation) are:
· Clarke County
· Colonial Heights
· Falls Church
· Floyd County
· Franklin County
· Giles County
· Goochland County
· Hanover County
· King George County
· King William County
· Mathews County
· Middlesex County
· Nelson County
· New Kent County
· Northumberland County
· Orange County
· Page County
· Patrick County
· Powhatan County
· Prince George County
· Richmond County
· Roanoke County
· Rockingham County
· Shenandoah County
· Stafford County
· Surry County
· Warren County
· West Point
· Williamsburg-James City County
· Wise County
Accreditation ratings also may reflect credit earned by schools that successfully remediate students who failed reading or mathematics tests during the previous year. Adjustments also may be made for students with limited-English proficiency and for students who have recently transferred into a Virginia public school.
Updated accreditation ratings for 2013-2014 for all schools are available on the VDOE website at: