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For Immediate Release
October 28, 2004

Contact: Charles Pyle
Director of Communications
(804) 371-2420

Julie Grimes
Public Information Officer
(804) 225-2775

Eight Out of Ten Schools Now Fully Accredited
More Elementary Schools Achieve Full Accreditation While Meeting Higher Standards for Reading

More than eight out of ten Virginia public schools are now fully accredited, based on the performance of students last year on Standards of Learning (SOL) and other tests in English, mathematics, science, and history. The number of elementary schools achieving the commonwealth’s highest school-quality rating also increased, even though the requirements for achievement in reading, history, and science were higher than in previous years.

Students in 1,514 or 84 percent of the commonwealth’s 1,807 schools that earned accreditation ratings met or exceeded the achievement objectives in the four core academic areas required for full accreditation. Last year, 1,423 or 78 percent of Virginia’s schools were fully accredited.

“Parents rely on accreditation as a trustworthy and understandable measure of the quality of instruction and the ability of a school to raise student achievement,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Jo Lynne DeMary. “These accreditation ratings show that our schools are continuing to improve as the Standards of Learning program approaches its tenth anniversary.”

“The number of fully accredited schools grew even though accreditation requirements for elementary schools increased in reading, science, and history,” said Board of Education President Thomas M. Jackson, Jr. “Virginia’s teachers continue to demonstrate that they are up to the challenges of accountability and high standards for student achievement.”

The accreditation ratings announced today reflect several provisions of the commonwealth’s accreditation standards that became effective with ratings earned during the 2003-2004 school year.

  • A combined accreditation pass rate of at least 75 percent on English tests in grades 3 and 5 is now required for full accreditation. Elementary schools also must achieve an accreditation pass rate of at least 70 percent in mathematics and in grade 5 science and grade 5 history, and pass rates of at least 50 percent in grade 3 science and grade 3 history. Previously, the science and history scores of students in grade 3 counted only if they improved the school’s rating.
  • The provisional accreditation categories for ratings earned during 1999-2000 through 2002-2003 no longer exist. Schools are now either fully accredited or accredited with warning, except in the cases of alternative schools with approved or pending alternative accreditation plans.

The number and percentage of elementary schools achieving full accreditation increased despite the higher accreditation requirements for elementary-level English, history, and science. This year, 1002 or 87 percent of the state’s 1,156 elementary schools that earned accreditation ratings during 2003-2004 are fully accredited. Last year, 932 or 81 percent of Virginia’s 1,153 elementary schools were fully accredited, based on achievement during 2002-2003.

Fifteen percent, or 270 of the schools that earned ratings last year are accredited with warning for 2004-2005, compared with 51 last year. Sixty percent, or 163 of the schools now on academic warning were provisionally accredited last year, while 166 of last year’s provisionally accredited schools are now fully accredited.

The accreditation status of 16 middle schools is under review pending further analysis by the department’s Division of Assessment and Reporting. The ratings of four alternative schools, with approved or pending requests to the Board of Education for alternative accreditation plans, remain to be determined. Three schools received no accreditation determination because of insufficient data.

The accreditation ratings for Virginia's public schools announced today are based on the achievement of students on SOL assessments and approved substitute tests administered during the summer and fall of 2003 and the spring of 2004 in English, mathematics, history/social science, and science or on overall achievement during the three most recent years. The results of tests administered in each subject area are combined to produce overall passing percentages in English, mathematics, history, and science, with the exceptions noted above for achievement in grade 3 history and science.

Accreditation ratings also may reflect adjustments made for schools that successfully remediate students who initially fail reading, or mathematics tests. Adjustments also may be made for students with limited English proficiency and for students who have recently transferred into a Virginia public school.

The Board of Education adopted the Standards of Learning in 1995. A program of annual assessments in English, mathematics, history/social science, and science in grades 3, 5, 8, and at the end of high school-level courses began in the 1997-98 school year. The department this year is field-testing new reading and mathematics tests for grades 4, 6, and 7 for administration beginning in 2005-2006.

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School-level Accreditation for 2004-2005 based on 2003-2004 Scores (Excel spreadsheet)

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