COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
P. O. BOX 2120
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120
SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 193
December 13, 1996

INFORMATIONAL

TO: Division Superintendents
FROM:
 
Richard T. La Pointe
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT:
 
Actions of the Board of Education Relative to the
Accredited Status of Public Schools in Virginia

 
  Attached is a copy of the Annual Report to the Board of
  Education on the Accredited Status of Public Schools in
  Virginia that was presented to the Board at its meeting held
  November 18, 1996.  The report is based on information
  submitted by schools across the state for the interim year
  of the two-year accrediting cycle that ended July 1, 1996.

  Normally, the interim-year report does not require Board
  action.  However, because the Board is reviewing the
  accrediting standards (SOA) with the intent that revisions
  will be made, the current accredited status of schools was
  extended to July 1998 to allow time for schools to implement
  any revisions to the SOA.  In addition to revising the
  standards, the Board will be reviewing the system used to
  collect and evaluate data related to compliance with the
  SOA.

  New Certificates of Accreditation for display in your
  schools will be sent in the near future.  If you have
  questions regarding the report or the status of any of the
  schools in your division, please contact Charles W. Finley,
  Policy Associate, Division of Policy and Public Affairs, at
  (804) 225-2747 or by e-mail to cfinley@pen.k12.va.us.


  RTL/cwf

  Attachment:  A hard copy of this memo and its attachment
               will be sent to the superintendent's office                                                 Attachment
                                       SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 193

          ANNUAL REPORT TO THE BOARD OF EDUCATION
   ON THE ACCREDITED STATUS OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN VIRGINIA


  INTRODUCTION

     The Standards of Quality (SOQ) require that each local
  school board maintain schools which meet the standards of
  accreditation as prescribed by the Board and that the status
  of all schools in each local school division be reviewed
  annually in public session.  The Regulations Establishing
  Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia
  stipulate that schools will be accredited biennially
  beginning with the implementation of the standards in
  October 1992.  Therefore, all schools in Virginia underwent
  a full accrediting review in the Fall of 1992 and the Fall
  of 1994.  The Board most recently approved the recommended
  status of schools in the Spring of 1995.  The schools were
  accredited for the two-year period ending June 30, 1996.

     Data on local schools' compliance with the accrediting
  standards is collected through a self-reporting/desk audit
  system in which the school principal and the division
  superintendent certify the level of compliance.  On-site
  verification of the data was discontinued prior to the
  adoption of the 1988 revision of the standards.  The
  information in this annual report represents the results of
  the interim year review conducted during the 1995-96 school
  year.  All schools in the Commonwealth reported that they
  were continuing to comply with the standards as they
  reported in 1994.


  SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

     Data are collected through the use of Report UG.002--Report 
  of Certification Status of Schools a form used by
  principals, and verified by the superintendent, to indicate
  whether or not they are in compliance with each accrediting
  standard.  If the principal indicates noncompliance, he/she
  must indicate which of the criteria are not being met.

     The Board of Education in 1989 approved the following
  scale for awarding the accreditation status of schools in
  Virginia:

          -    Accredited (No more than 2 deficiencies)
          -    Accredited and Advised (Three but no more
                 than 6 deficiencies)
          -    Accredited with a Warning (Seven or more
                 deficiencies)

     In addition, schools can be recommended for "Accredited
  with a Warning" status if significant deficiencies (such as
  problems with physical facilities) are reported by
  representatives of the Department.  No threshold of numbers
  of deficiencies at which point a school would lose its
  accreditation has been set.

     In the event a school is awarded the status of
  "Accredited with a Warning," the division is required to
  submit a corrective action plan addressing deficiencies.  If
  the division fails to submit such a plan or fails to
  implement the approved plan, the school is deemed in
  violation of the Standards of Quality.  In instances where
  local school boards have failed or refused, and continue to
  fail or refuse to comply with provisions of the Standards of
  Quality (in this instance, failing to maintain schools that
  meet the accrediting standards), the Board is then required
  to report the noncompliance to the Office of the Attorney
  General for appropriate action, a step that has never been
  taken by the Board.

     In 1994-95, for the 1994-96 accrediting cycle, 
  recommendations for awarding the status of schools reporting
  noncompliance items resulted in 60 of those schools being
  fully accredited, five (5) schools being accredited with
  advisement, and one (1)being accredited with a warning. 
  Schools reporting no deficiencies were assigned accredited
  status.

     In 1995, the superintendent of the Department of
  Correctional Education approached the Superintendent of
  Public Instruction requesting that juvenile correctional
  centers in the state be accredited by the Board.  The
  centers currently are licensed for their custodial care
  through the Interdepartmental Regulation of Children's
  Residential Facilities (CORE Standards) process developed
  and adopted by the Departments of Corrections, Social
  Services, Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance
  Abuse Services, and Education.  The CORE Standards contain
  an educational component; however, the component primarily
  addresses special education issues.  The education programs
  are not reviewed for educational merit under the CORE
  standards.

     The primary rationale for the request was to facilitate
  movement of students from the juvenile correctional centers
  back into public schools.  In the past, local public schools
  were reluctant to award credit for work completed by
  students while they were incarcerated because the juvenile
  correctional centers were not accredited.  In addition, the
  1996 General Assembly enacted legislation requiring that
  reenrollment plans be developed jointly by the Department of
  Juvenile Justice and local public schools for students
  incarcerated in the correctional centers.

     Standard 1.2.D of the accrediting standards states: 
  Standards that are not appropriate to special education or
  to vocational and alternative programs housed in separate
  facilities will not be applied so long as state regulations
  governing services to the students enrolled are met.  The
  Department of Correctional Education has demonstrated that
  the juvenile correctional centers listed below are in
  compliance with standards appropriate to the educational
  program offered in the facilities to be accredited as
  alternative education programs as provided in the above
  referenced standard:

     Beaumont Juvenile Correctional Center, Powhatan
     Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center, Richmond
     Oak Ridge Juvenile Correctional Center, Richmond
     Barrett Juvenile Correctional Center, Hanover
     Hanover Juvenile Correctional Center, Hanover
     Natural Bridge Juvenile Correctional Center,
       Natural Bridge

  The Reception and Diagnostic Center in Bon Air will be
  instituting an education program of the same level as the
  above centers in the near future.

  CONCLUSION

     During the 1995-96 school year, schools submitted an
  interim report signed by the principal and the
  superintendent certifying continued compliance with the
  standards or correction of any noncompliance item from the
  previous full year (even year) reporting period.

     Normally, information for 1996-97 would be collected in
  the Fall of 1996 and recommendations for awarding the status
  of schools would be brought to the Board in the Spring of
  1997.  However, because the accrediting standards are being
  revised, the Superintendent is recommending that the status
  of schools awarded in 1994 be extended for the 1996-98
  accrediting cycle which would end in June 1998.  Schools
  that demonstrate that previously reported deficiencies have
  been removed may have their status upgraded to a more
  appropriate status.  During this period, the current process
  for collecting information on compliance with the standards
  can be reviewed and revised so that schools will be
  evaluated on the new standards.  In addition, the Board may
  want to establish a new set of tolerances on which
  accreditation status will be awarded.