WINCHESTER — Twenty-two of the area’s 29 public schools, or roughly 76 percent, have been fully accredited for the 2017-2018 school year, according to accreditation ratings released Wednesday by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).
Additionally, one school has been granted conditional accreditation as a new school and three schools received partial accreditation, while the ratings for three schools are yet to be determined. This is roughly the same as last year, when 21 out of 28 schools were fully accredited.
Statewide, 1,573 of the commonwealth’s 1,823 public schools, or 86 percent, are fully accredited.
Accreditation ratings are based on the pass rates of the state Standards of Learning (SOL) tests students take in the previous year. To be fully accredited, elementary and middle school students must have pass rates of at least 75 percent in English and at least 70 percent on assessments in mathematics, science and history. High schools must also meet a benchmark of 85 points or higher for graduation and completion on the graduation and completion index (GCI). According to the VDOE, the GCI calculation comprises students in the cohort of expected on-time graduates (students who were first-time ninth graders four years ago, plus transfers in and minus transfers out) and students carried over from previous cohorts. A student earning a diploma who entered ninth grade for the first time five years ago is an example of a carryover student. Students with disabilities and limited-English proficient students are included in the GCI calculation when they: earn a diploma, GED or certificate of completion; drop out or otherwise exit high school; or are no longer eligible for free public education services.
All four Clarke County schools maintained their full accreditation ratings, even though their SOL scores dropped slightly. Overall, the division’s reading pass rate dropped from 82 to 79, writing dipped from 78 to 77, history/social science stayed the same at 86, math fell from 84 to 78 and science dipped from 87 to 84.
“We are extremely pleased that all of our schools have met the state accreditation benchmarks for the second consecutive year,” Clarke County Public Schools Superintendent Chuck Bishop said. “Our students and staff continue to work incredibly hard each day. We realize that SOL tests are one measure of student success, but those scores alone do not define our school division. We continue to analyze our data in an effort to improve each year.”
Thirteen schools in Frederick County received full accreditation, the same number as last year: Apple Pie Ridge Elementary, Armel Elementary, Bass-Hoover Elementary, Evendale Elementary, Greenwood Mill Elementary, Orchard View Elementary, Stonewall Elementary, Adm. Richard E. Byrd Middle, James Wood Middle, Robert E. Aylor Middle, James Wood High, Millbrook High and Sherando High.
Indian Hollow Elementary School has been designated as partially accredited: warned school-pass rate, according to the VDOE. This rating is given to schools that are not within a narrow margin of, nor making acceptable progress toward, achieving the adjusted SOL pass rates required for full accreditation. SOL scores fell in all areas for the school. English/reading pass rates fell from 76 to 64, history/social sciences fell from 87 to 74, math scores fell from 89 to 76 and science scores fell from 84 to 75. Last year, Indian Hollow was fully accredited.
Middletown Elementary School has been designated as partially accredited: approaching benchmark-pass rate. According to the VDOE, this rating is given to schools that are not fully accredited but are within two points of the adjusted SOL pass rates required for full accreditation in one or more subject areas. SOL scores fell in two areas at Middletown, but also improved in two. English pass rates fell from 73 to 71, history/social sciences went from 80 to 84, math scores rose from 73 to 78 and science scores went from 69 to 67. Middletown Elementary also was fully accredited last year.
The accreditation status of Gainesboro and Redbud Run elementary schools as well as Frederick County Middle School is to be determined. Their status will be assigned by the VDOE in the near future.
SOL pass rates at Gainesboro Elementary School rose from 72 to 73 in English/reading, fell in history/social science from 77 to 74, fell in math from 75 to 70 and rose in science from 69 to 72. At Redbud Run Elementary School, SOL pass rates increased in English/reading from 63 to 67, increased in history/social science from 72 to 81, increased in math from 67 to 72 and increased in science from 65 to 71.
Frederick County Middle School SOL pass rates rose in English/reading from 73 to 74, fell in English writing from 69 to 67, fell in history/social sciences from 91 to 84, rose in math from 66 to 76 and fell in science from 86 to 83.
“Although our school division’s SOL pass rates have increased since 2014, it’s important not to place too much attention on a single measure of success when multiple measures must be considered if we are to gain a clear understanding of our division’s strengths and opportunities for growth,” Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Jim Angelo said in a news release issued Wednesday. “Pass rates only show whether a student has met a particular benchmark and do not indicate how much student growth has occurred. State Superintendent for Public Instruction Dr. Steve Staples has stated that our current school accountability system focuses too much on outcomes when we should acknowledge growth. I agree wholeheartedly with that view and am pleased that changes are being implemented in Virginia’s school accountability system that will take into account multiple measures of success and performance assessments.”
Five Winchester schools received full accreditation: Frederick Douglass Elementary School, Garland R. Quarles Elementary School, Handley High School, Virginia Avenue Charlotte DeHart Elementary School and John Kerr Elementary School. Last year, Kerr was conditionally accredited as a new school. Daniel Morgan Middle School was partially accredited with a warned school pass rate. SOL scores at Daniel Morgan Middle School fell in each area. Pass rates for English/reading dropped from 68 to 66, scores in writing fell from 66 to 57, scores in history/social science decreased from 78 to 76, scores in math went from 77 to 74 and scores in science from 73 to 63.
Daniel Morgan Intermediate School was conditionally accredited as a new school. It opened this fall to serve grades 5 and 6. DMIS is housed in the same building as Daniel Morgan Middle School, which serves grades 7 and 8.
“We’re very proud of the work our teachers [do],” Winchester Public Schools Superintendent Jason Van Heukelum said. “We look at testing data to see what areas we can improve, and we are actively implementing specific strategies for improvement.”
The biggest implementation is splitting Daniel Morgan into a middle school and an intermediate school, which was approved earlier this year.
— Contact Julia Kazar at [email protected]