Accountability & Virginia Public Schools – 2012-2013
2012-2013 School Year
Virginia’s accountability system supports teaching and learning by setting rigorous academic standards – known as the Standards of Learning (SOL) – and through annual assessments of student achievement.
A school’s state accreditation rating reflects overall achievement in the four core academic areas of English, history/social science, mathematics and science. In addition, high schools must meet a minimum benchmark for graduation and completion. Schools in which students meet or exceed all achievement objectives established by the Virginia Board of Education are rated as Fully Accredited.
The federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) requires states to establish annual measurable objectives (AMOs) for raising overall reading and mathematics achievement and the achievement of student subgroups.
Virginia, under ESEA flexibility waivers granted on June 29, 2012, has established AMOs designed to reduce proficiency gaps between high- and low-performing schools within six years.
The commonwealth no longer issues Adequate Yearly Progress ratings but does report on the performance of schools and student subgroups in meeting the AMOs.
Schools must develop and implement improvement plans to raise the achievement of student subgroups not meeting annual objectives. Low-performing schools identified as Priority and Focus schools are subject to specific interventions.
Revised July 2012
Accreditation: High Standards for Learning & Achievement
School accreditation ratings reflect student achievement on SOL tests and other approved assessments in the four core academic areas of English, history/social science, mathematics and science. Ratings are based on the achievement of students on tests taken during the previous academic year or may reflect a three-year average of achievement. Schools receive one of the following ratings:
Elementary schools are Fully Accredited if students achieve all of the following pass rates:
- English – 75 percent or higher, grades 3-5
- Mathematics – 70 percent or higher, grades 3-5
- Science – 70 percent or higher in grade 5 and 50 percent or higher in grade 3
- History – 70 percent or higher in Virginia Studies (grade 4 or 5) and 50 percent or higher in grade 3
Middle schools are Fully Accredited if students achieve pass rates of 70 percent or higher in all four content areas.
High schools are Fully Accredited if students achieve pass rates of 70 percent or more in all four content areas and attain a point value of 85 or greater based on the Graduation and Completion Index (GCI).
Flexibility for High-Performing Schools
Virginia’s accountability system allows schools that maintain pass rates of 95 percent or greater in all four core academic areas for two consecutive years to apply for a waiver from annual accreditation. Schools awarded waivers are rated as Fully Accredited for a three-year period.
Provisionally Accredited-Graduation Rate
A high school or combined school with a graduating class is Provisionally Accredited-Graduation Rate if students achieve adjusted pass rates of 70 percent or more in all four content areas and a GCI from 81 to 84 points. Schools with a rating of Provisionally Accredited-Graduation Rate are subject to an academic review. Elementary and middle schools are not eligible for provisional accreditation.
Accredited with Warning
A school receives an Accredited with Warning rating if its adjusted pass rates for the four core subjects are below the achievement levels required for full accreditation. Schools that receive this rating undergo academic reviews and are required to adopt and implement school improvement plans. Schools that are warned in English and/or mathematics are also required to adopt instructional programs proven by research to be effective in raising achievement in these subjects. A school may hold this rating for no more than three consecutive years.
In addition, high schools earning a GCI less than the provisional benchmark for the year are rated as Accredited with Warning.
A school is rated Accreditation Denied if it fails to meet the requirements for full accreditation for four consecutive years.
Any school denied accreditation must provide parents and other interested parties the following:
- Written notice of the school’s accreditation rating within 30 calendar days of the announcement of the rating by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE);
- A copy of the school division’s proposed corrective action plan describing the steps to be taken to raise achievement to state standards – including a timeline for implementation – to improve the school’s accreditation rating; and
- An opportunity to comment on the division’s proposed corrective action plan prior to its adoption and the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the local school board and the Board of Education.
The local school board – within 45 days of receiving notice of the status – must submit to the Board of Education the proposed corrective action plan. The Board of Education will consider the proposal and develop a memorandum of understanding with the local school board, which must be implemented by November 1. The local school board must submit status reports detailing the implementation of actions prescribed in the memorandum of understanding; and the principal, division superintendent and local school board chairman may be required to appear before the Board of Education to present status reports.
Additionally, in any school division where one-third or more of the schools have been denied accreditation, the local school board is required to evaluate the division superintendent and submit a copy of the evaluation to the Board of Education by December 1. The Board of Education may take action – as permitted by the Standards of Quality – against the local school board due to the failure of the local board to maintain accredited schools.
There are two types of Conditionally Accredited schools:
- Conditionally Accredited-New is awarded for a one-year period to a new school – comprising students who previously attended one or more existing schools – to provide the opportunity to evaluate the performance of students on SOL tests and other statewide assessments.
- Conditionally Accredited-Reconstituted is awarded to a school that fails to meet full accreditation requirements for four consecutive years and, as an alternative to a memorandum of understanding, receives permission from the Board of Education to reconstitute. A reconstituted school reverts to Accreditation Denied status if it fails to meet full accreditation requirements within the agreed-upon term, or if it fails to have its annual application for conditional accreditation renewed.
|Accreditation Benchmarks (Adjusted Pass Rates)|
|Subject||Grade 3||Grades 4-5||Grades 6-12|
Note: Ratings for the 2012-2013 school year are based on achievement during 2011-2012 or on average achievement during the three most recent school years. Beginning with tests administered in 2012-2013, the minimum pass rate for English will rise to 75 percent for all grades and the pass rates for the other three core areas – at all grade levels – will be 70 percent.
A school’s accreditation rating may reflect adjustments to pass rates resulting from successful remediation efforts and for the allowable exclusion of some limited-English proficient (LEP) students and transfer students.
Remediation & Retesting
Virginia’s accountability system recognizes successful remediation programs that help students achieve minimum proficiency standards in reading and mathematics in all tested grades. A school is credited for successful remedial instruction when a student – who failed a particular content-area assessment during the previous year – subsequently passes the content-area test. If a student fails a test required for graduation and successfully retests during the same school year, the result of the first test is not included in the accreditation calculation.
Limited-English Proficient Students
The scores of LEP students (also known as English language learners or ELL students) enrolled in Virginia public schools fewer than 11 semesters may be excluded from accreditation calculations. While all LEP students are expected to participate in the state assessment program, a school-based committee determines the level of participation of each LEP student. In kindergarten through grade 8, the school-based committee may grant the student a one-time exemption from testing in writing (in grades 5 or 8), science (in grade 3 only) and history/social science (once during grades 3-8).
The scores of students transferring within a Virginia school division are included in the calculation of accreditation ratings. Students transferring into a school from another Virginia school division, another state, a private school or who have been home schooled are expected to take the assessments for the content areas in which they received instruction. Under limited circumstances as described in Board of Education regulations, the failing scores of some transfer students may be excluded from the accreditation calculation.
Virginia & ESEA
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) – known since 2001 as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) – requires states to set annual measurable objectives for increasing student achievement to ensure that all children have an opportunity to obtain a high-quality education.
Under the provisions of the two-year flexibility waiver granted by the US Department of Education on June 29, 2012, the Board of Education has set new annual measurable objectives (AMOs) for raising achievement in the commonwealth’s lowest-performing schools. These new annual objectives in reading and mathematics replace the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) targets schools were previously required to meet.
The AMOs were determined using a formula based on the federal law and student-achievement data from the state’s assessment program. Annual mathematics benchmarks are based on achievement during 2011-2012 on the commonwealth’s rigorous new mathematics tests. Reading benchmarks for the first year of flexibility are based on achievement on 2010-2011 state assessments. Reading AMOs will be reset next year based on the performance of students during 2012-2013 on tests reflecting the increased rigor of the 2010 English standards.
Separate AMOs have been set for student subgroups, including new Proficiency Gap Groups comprising students who historically have had difficulty meeting the commonwealth’s achievement standards:
- Proficiency Gap Group 1 – Students with disabilities, limited-English proficient (LEP) students and economically disadvantaged students, regardless of race and ethnicity (unduplicated)
- Proficiency Gap Group 2 – African-American students, not of Hispanic origin, including those also counted in Proficiency Gap Group 1
- Proficiency Gap Group 3 – Hispanic students, of one or more races, including those also counted in Proficiency Gap Group 1
The benchmarks are set with the goal of reducing by half the proficiency gaps in reading and mathematics between the lowest- and highest-performing schools – overall and for each subgroup and proficiency gap group – within six years.
Annual Measurable Objectives
The AMOs are based on the actual performance of students in each subgroup in the lowest-achieving schools on SOL reading tests in 2010-2011 and on the rigorous new SOL mathematics tests in 2011-2012. In setting the AMOs, the Board of Education followed a methodology prescribed by the law. To establish starting points under Virginia’s NCLB flexibility plan, all schools in the state were rank ordered based on the percent of students that passed the assessment. Then, the number of students with an assessment record in each school was recorded. The pass rate of the school at the 20th percentile of total number of students with assessment records for the state represents the starting point (Year 1 AMO) for calculating the AMOs. (This procedure for calculating a starting point is consistent with the methodology in the NCLB Act of 2001.) This process is repeated to establish the starting point (Year 1 AMO) for each of the student subgroups, including the three Proficiency Gap Groups.
AMOs for mathematics for assessment years 2012-2013 through 2016-2017 culminate with all students and student subgroups achieving pass rates of at least 73 percent in the subject. NCLB’s “safe harbor” provision recognizing a ten-percent reduction in a subgroup’s failure rate as acceptable progress remains in effect. In addition, under a new safe harbor provision for higher-performing schools and subgroups, federal requirements will be considered as being met if a pass rate exceeds the AMO target and falls within five percent of the previous year’s pass rate. This prevents schools from being penalized for typical year-to-year fluctuations in achievement. This safe harbor provision may not be invoked for more than two consecutive years.
|Reading Annual Measurable Objectives for Lowest-Performing Schools|
Reading AMOs for accountability years 2013-2014 through 2017-2018 will be determined based on subgroup pass rates on revised Reading SOL tests administered during 2012-2013.
|Proficiency Gap Group 1||76|
|Proficiency Gap Group 2 (Black Students)||76|
|Proficiency Gap Group 3 (Hispanic Students)||80|
|Students with Disabilities||59|
|Economically Disadvantaged Students||76|
|Mathematics Annual Measurable Objectives for Lowest-Performing Schools|
|Proficiency Gap Group 1||47||52||57||63||68||
|Proficiency Gap Group 2 (Black Students)||45||51||56||62||67|
|Proficiency Gap Group 3 (Hispanic Students)||52||56||60||65||69|
|Students with Disabilities||33||41||49||57||65|
|Economically Disadvantaged Students||47||52||57||63||68|
Reporting & Accountability
Under the flexibility waiver, information on schools and school divisions meeting and not meeting the new, annual federal benchmarks for raising achievement and narrowing achievement gaps is reported on the VDOE website. Schools and school divisions, however, no longer receive Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) ratings.
School and division report cards indicate whether subgroups and proficiency gap groups met AMOs in reading and mathematics. In addition, report cards for divisions and high schools show whether the annual ESEA objective for graduation – known as the Federal Graduation Indicator – was met. The graduation indicator is met if 80 percent or more students graduate in four, five or six years with a Standard Diploma or Advanced Studies Diploma.
All public schools – including schools that do not receive Title I funds under the ESEA – must develop and implement improvement plans to raise the achievement of student subgroups not meeting the annual benchmarks.
The following must use a web-based, school-improvement tool approved by VDOE for assessing, planning, implementing and monitoring progress:
- Title I schools (not identified as focus or priority schools) not meeting one or more AMO targets or participation rates
- All schools (including non-Title I schools) not earning full state accreditation
Title I high schools not meeting the Federal Graduation Indicator rate must use the Virginia Early Warning System (VEWS) to identify students at risk of dropping out or not graduating on time with a Standard or Advanced Studies Diploma and to develop and implement a plan for improvement.
School divisions also are expected to meet the 95-percent participation rate requirement and AMOs in reading and mathematics for all student subgroups.
Priority, Focus & Reward Schools
Priority and focus schools are subject to state-approved and monitored school-improvement interventions. Priority and focus schools, however, are not subject to previous NCLB improvement sanctions, such as having to provide public school choice or private tutoring.
Five percent of Virginia’s Title I schools (36) are identified as priority schools based on overall reading and mathematics achievement and graduation rates in the case of high schools. Schools meeting one or more of the following criteria are identified as priority schools:
- Title I schools and other schools receiving federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) funds and identified as a Tier I or Tier II school
- Title I high schools with a federal graduation indicator of 60 percent or less for two or more of the most recent consecutive years
- Title I schools that fail to test 95 percent of students overall and in all subgroups in reading and mathematics for three consecutive years
- Title I schools in which overall achievement in reading and/or mathematics does not meet annual benchmarks – as needed to identify a number of schools equivalent to five percent of the state’s Title I schools.
Priority schools must engage a state-approved turnaround partner to help implement a school-improvement model meeting state and federal requirements.
Ten percent of Virginia’s Title I schools (72) are identified as focus schools based on reading and mathematics achievement of students in the three proficiency gap groups.
Focus schools must employ a state-approved coach to help the division develop, implement and monitor intervention strategies to improve the performance of students at risk of not meeting achievement standards or dropping out of school.
Many of the commonwealth’s underperforming schools are already subject to these and similar interventions as a consequence of state accountability provisions and state-established requirements for schools receiving federal SIG funds.
Title I schools that are high achieving or demonstrate significant improvement are recognized as Reward Schools if they earn recognition through one of the following state or federal programs:
- Virginia Index of Performance
- National Blue Ribbon School
- Title I Distinguished School
Participation in State Assessments
ESEA requires that 95 percent of students overall and in each subgroup participate in state reading and mathematics testing at the school, division and state levels.
The 95-percent participation requirement also applies to the three proficiency gap groups established under Virginia’s approved flexibility plan.
If less than 95 percent of students in a subgroup or proficiency gap group are tested in a subject, then the subgroup or proficiency gap group is not considered to have achieved the AMO – regardless of the students’ pass rate in the subject.
Subgroup Size & Accountability
A subgroup or proficiency gap group in a school or a division must include at least 50 students for the corresponding annual measurable objective to factor in accountability decisions, including the identification of focus schools. Beginning with tests taken during 2012-2013, the achievement of subgroups and proficiency gap groups of 30 or more students will count.
Students with Disabilities
Virginia’s special education regulations require students with disabilities to participate in all state assessments. Students with disabilities may take SOL tests (with or without special accommodations), or may be assessed through alternative grade-level tests. Students with significant cognitive disabilities are assessed through an alternate test. ESEA, however, places a one-percent cap on the percentage of test-takers in the state who may be counted as proficient based on the results of alternate assessments and a two-percent cap on the number of test-takers who may be counted as proficient based on the results of modified achievement standards tests.
ESEA allows a one-time exemption from testing in reading in grades 3-8 for LEP students who have attended school in the United States for fewer than 12 months. All LEP students must participate in mathematics assessments regardless of when they arrived in the country.
If an LEP student in his or her first year of enrollment is tested, the student is counted as participating in the state assessment program. However, failing mathematics scores of tested LEP students in the first year of enrollment do not count against a school or division.
LEP students at the lowest levels of English proficiency may take an alternative grade-level assessment for reading and a plain-English version of the mathematics SOL test for up to three years.
Retakes of end-of-course tests
The achievement of students on all retakes of end-of-course assessments in reading and mathematics is included in determining whether AMOs are met. If a student fails a test required for graduation and successfully retests during the same school year, the first test does not count for accountability purposes.
Public School Choice and Supplemental Educational Services
Under Virginia’s June 29, 2012, flexibility waiver, school divisions are no longer required to offer public school choice to students in schools identified for improvement. Divisions with students who transferred previously under ESEA/NCLB’s now-waived public school-choice provision must allow these students to remain in their choice schools until completion of the highest grade. Divisions may – but are no longer required – provide transportation for these students. Divisions with Priority or Focus schools may offer public school choice as an intervention strategy and may use Title I, Part A funds to provide transportation.Divisions also are no longer required to offer supplemental educational services, or tutoring, to students in schools identified for improvement. Divisions may elect to offer tutoring as an intervention strategy for Priority and Focus schools, and may use Title I, Part A funds to pay for the services.