SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 178
September 17, 1999
|FROM:||Paul D. Stapleton
Superintendent of Public Instruction
|SUBJECT:||Accreditation Rating/Report Cards|
During the past two weeks many of you have contacted me regarding your school divisions' accreditation ratings that you recently received. I appreciate your comments, and I would like to respond to concerns that you have expressed to me. The first concern that I will address is related to schools that were rated Accredited with Warning although the schools may have made improvement in one, two, or even three of the core academic areas. The current definition of improvement, which requires progress in each of the four core academic areas might lead parents and other individuals to believe that a school made no improvement when in fact there was improvement in individual core academic areas. In order to assist school divisions in clarifying this issue to the school community, we have developed an insert (attachment #1) that may be included with the School Performance Report Card. We will be providing a copy of this insert for each student in your school division. So that we may accomplish this objective effectively, I have asked the printer to hold any future shipment of the School Performance Report Cards until the insert can be included with the shipment. For those schools that have already received their School Performance Report Cards, inserts will be sent to them in a separate mailing. The second concern that I will address is related to your questions concerning the formula used to determine a school's accreditation rating. At a meeting of the Superintendent's Standards of Learning Assessment Advisory Committee, which consists of superintendents from each of the eight Regional Superintendents Study Groups, a recommendation was made to consider accreditation ratings based on multi-year averages, cumulative core area scores and/or standard margin of error for passing rate. To accomplish this goal, the Department devised a formula to determine the 1999-2000 school accreditation rating. If a school met all requirements at all grade levels and in the four core academic areas the school was Fully Accredited and no further analysis was made. Schools that were not Fully Accredited would be either Provisionally Accredited or Accredited with Warning. To be Provisionally Accredited, a school must show improvement in all four core academic areas. If a school has more than one grade in which SOL tests are administered, the results are combined to obtain one English, one mathematics, one science, and one history score. This is done by adding the total number of students passing the test and dividing by the total number of students taking the test. This figure is then compared to the equivalent figure from the 1998 administration of the SOL tests to determine if improvement has occurred. If there is improvement in all four core academic areas, the school is Provisionally Accredited. If there is no improvement in one or more of the core academic areas, the school is Accredited with Warning. In some instances there were schools that showed improvement in all four core academic areas of the 1998-99 SOL tests; however, using the above formula these schools were rated Accredited with Warning because the overall performance in 1998-99 was lower than the overall performance in 1997-98 (attachment #2). As you are aware, the Board of Education is in the process of revising the Standards of Accreditation. You provided them with much input during the first round of the public hearings that I know will help them to consider revisions that will address many of your concerns. I hope that this information will help, and if I can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to call me or any member of my staff. If you have specific questions relating to accreditation please contact the Office of Accountability at 804-786- 9421. PDS:pfm Attachments: A hard copy of this memo and its attachment will be sent to the superintendent's office.