Nine Out of 10 Virginia Schools Now Fully Accredited
Nine out of 10 Virginia public schools are now fully accredited, based on achievement of students in English, mathematics, history, and science during the 2004-2005 school year, the Virginia Department of Education announced today.
Students in 1,685, or 92 percent of the commonwealth’s 1,834 schools receiving accreditation ratings for 2005-2006, met or exceeded state achievement objectives on Standards of Learning (SOL) tests and other statewide assessments in the four core academic areas. Last year, 1,514 or 84 percent of Virginia’s schools were initially rated as fully accredited.*
“Ten years ago, Virginia responded to a moral imperative to raise academic standards for schools and students,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Jo Lynne DeMary. “I congratulate the thousands of teachers, administrators, and other educators whose hard work and dedication to children have made this historic reform work for the commonwealth’s schools and students. I also thank the parents who recognized the need to raise standards ten years ago, and whose support for our schools and teachers has been essential in raising student achievement.”
"This year's accreditation ratings cap a long, bipartisan process in which we stood firm in our efforts to raise standards and insist on accountability," said Governor Mark R. Warner. "Rather than retreat, we united, and provided the intervention and resources our students and schools needed to meet higher standards. I thank Dr. DeMary for the outstanding leadership she has provided during this critical chapter in the history of Virginia's public schools."
In 1998, the first year of SOL testing, only 2 percent of the commonwealth’s public schools met the standard for full accreditation. The percentage of schools meeting the state’s accreditation standards increased to 6.5 percent in 1999, 22 percent in 2000, 40 percent in 2001, 64 percent in 2002, 78 percent in 2003, and 84 percent in 2004.
Ninety-five percent of Virginia’s elementary schools are now fully accredited, as are 83 percent of the commonwealth’s middle schools, and 94 percent of the high schools.
“Students are achieving at significantly higher levels than 10 years ago in nearly every school and in nearly every community in the commonwealth,” said Board of Education President Thomas M. Jackson, Jr. “By maintaining accountability and providing the flexibility schools needed to make reform work, Virginia has successfully raised the bar and opened new opportunities for students.”
The number of schools accredited with warning fell to 130, compared with 255 at the close of last year. Of the 255 schools that were on academic warning last year, 158 are now fully accredited. Only 29 schools slipped from full accreditation to accredited with warning.
For the first time since the beginning of the SOL reform, more than half of the commonwealth’s school divisions have no schools on the state’s academic warning list. In 79, or 60 percent of Virginia’s 132 school divisions, all schools were either fully accredited or conditionally accredited. Conditional accreditation applies only to new schools during their first year of operation. Last year, 56, or 42 percent of Virginia’s school districts had no schools accredited with warning.
The accreditation ratings announced today are based on the achievement of students on SOL assessments and approved substitute tests in English, mathematics, history/social science, and science administered during the summer and fall of 2004 and the spring of 2005, 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.
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.
In middle schools and high schools, an adjusted pass rate of at least 70 percent in all four subject areas is required for full accreditation. In elementary schools, a combined accreditation pass rate of at least 75 percent on English tests in grades 3 and 5 is required for full accreditation. Elementary schools also must achieve accreditation pass rates of at least 70 percent in mathematics, grade-5 science, and grade-5 history, and pass rates of at least 50 percent in grade-3 science and grade-3 history.
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 is introducing new reading and mathematics tests for grades 4, 6, and 7 this year, as required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
* Subsequent reviews and data submissions increased the number of fully accredited schools last year to 1,583, or 86 percent.
Virginia School Divisions with All Schools