SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 38
June 26, 1998
|FROM:||Paul D. Stapleton
Superintendent of Public Instruction
At its retreat on April 22, 1998, the Board of Education authorized the Department of Education to move forward on a number of issues related to the new system for accrediting schools in Virginia. The Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia prescribe an annual accrediting cycle for schools and requires that schools certify compliance with certain provisions of the standards as a prerequisite to accreditation. The regulations include the following provision: D. Pre-accreditation requirements: As a prerequisite to the awarding of an accreditation rating as defined in 8 VAC 20-131-300, Application of the Standards, each new or existing school shall document, in a manner prescribed by the Board, its compliance with the requirements to offer courses that will allow students to complete the graduation requirements in 8 VAC 20-131- 50, the ability to offer the instructional program prescribed in 8 VAC 20-131-70 through 8 VAC 20-131-100, the leadership and staffing requirements of 8 VAC 20-131-210 through 8 VAC 20-131-240 and the facilities and safety provisions of 8 VAC 20-131-260. The standards stipulate that all schools automatically will be rated Provisionally Accredited effective July 1. We were authorized to modify the self-certification process already in place to collect data on compliance with pre-accreditation eligibility requirements. It will be necessary for each school to certify compliance with certain provisions of the standards as prescribed above. A form has been developed for that purpose and preprinted for all of the schools in your division. Please return one copy of Attachment A (Form UG.002) for each school, along with any required corrective action plans, on or before July 31, 1998. The Board also adopted a policy to identify various educational entities in the state that would be recognized as "schools" for accreditation purposes. Only schools that have students in fall membership will be held accountable for meeting the standards. While schools that do not report fall membership will not be accredited independently, facilities that provide instruction to students who are reported in fall membership data at their home schools are not fully relieved of the responsibility for meeting other applicable standards. They will share the accreditation rating of the schools that serve as their students' home schools. A Form UG.002 must be submitted for all schools in the division including those with no fall membership. Some schools have been identified that do not house a grade that is tested in the Standards of Learning (SOL) assessment program or offer courses that require an end-of-course SOL test. For accrediting purposes, that school must be paired with another school with which it has a feeder relationship and a grade to be tested. For example, schools with a K-2 grade configuration should be paired with a school that houses a third-grade class and receives students from the K-2 school (a majority or significant number of those students would be preferred). Another example is a school that houses only grades 6 and 7. The preferred pairing may be for a school housing the 8th grade to receive students in grades 6 and 7. Where there are such schools in a division, they are listed on Attachment B (Form UG.003). Please use the form to recommend how these schools should be paired. On July 1, 1995, the Board began accrediting child day care programs operated by public schools. Those programs must meet or exceed regulations for private day care providers issued by the Child Day Care Council. The Board of Education promulgated regulations that incorporate those of the Child Day Care Council by reference. If schools in your division are operating child day care programs (preschool or extended day), please indicate that fact on Attachment A where requested. The regulations exempt the following programs: Instructional programs offered by public schools that satisfy compulsory attendance laws or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and extracurricular activities that are focused on single interests such as, but not limited to, music, drama, art, sports, or foreign languages are exempt from the requirements of these regulations. If you have questions or need copies of any of the regulations discussed in this memorandum, please contact Charles W. Finley, Principal Specialist for Policy Analysis at (804) 225-2747 or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. PDS/cwf Attachments: A hard copy of this memo and its attachments will be sent to the superintendent's office.