COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
P. O. BOX 2120
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120

SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 178
September 17, 1999

INFORMATIONAL

TO: Division Superintendents
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.