SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 193
December 13, 1996
||Richard T. La Pointe
Superintendent of Public Instruction
||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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.