Accreditation Status
Virginia accredits their schools based on the pass rate of SOL tests. Schools can be fully accredited if they score at least a 70 percent pass rate in all subject areas, Schools earn a rating of Provisionally Accredited/Meets State Standards if they score below 70 percent but at or above 66 percent in English, 65 percent in math, 50 percent in history/social science and 66 percent in science for elementary and middle schools or 65 percent for high schools. Schools are Provisionally Accredited/Needs Improvement if one or more subject areas are below the lower benchmarks listed above. Schools that score 20 points or more below the lower benchmarks are Accredited with Warning. The pass rate for each of the four subject areas (math, English, social studies and science) is determined one of three ways: the best of the number of students passing the SOL plus the number of students who failed the first test but passed the retake divided by the total number of students taking the test minus the number of students who retook the test and failed; or the number of students passing the SOL plus the number of students who failed the first test but passed the retake divided the total number of students taking the test minus the number of students who retook the test and failed and the number of Limited English Proficient students and mid-year transfers who took the test; or the 3-year rolling average of accreditation rates.

Adjusted Test Scores
Overall performance of students in a school on benchmark standardized tests adjusted for poverty level.

Challenge Index
Washington Post education writer Jay Mathews's measure of the difficulty of a high school academic curriculum. It is calculated by adding all the Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate tests given at a high school (not just to seniors) and dividing by the number of graduating seniors. Private schools and magnet schools that admit more than half their students based on test scores or grades are not counted, nor are new high schools without a full senior class.

% Completing Career and Tech. Requirements
The number of students completing state vocational requirements divided by the number of graduates. Applies to Maryland schools.

% Completing U of Md. Requirements
The number of students meeting the minimum academic standards for admission to the University of Maryland system divided by the number of graduates. Applies to Maryland schools.

% Completing U-Md. & Career &Tech. Requirements
The number of students completing state vocational requirements and the mimimum academic standards for admission to the University of Maryland divided by the total number of graduates. Applies to Maryland schools.

% Completing a Rigorous HS Program
In Maryland, the number of students completing a more advanced high school curriculum divided by the number of graduates. In Virginia, this is the Advanced Studies Diploma, requiring additional credits than the standard diploma.

D.C. Stanford 9
Sometimes referred to as the SAT9, the Stanford Achievement Tests, 9th Edition, is the standardized test given to District of Columbia students in grades 3, 5, and 8 in reading and math. Students take both tests in the fall as a baseline to measure improvement with the spring tests. The scores reported in the guide for charter schools were provided by D.C. Public Schools and may differ from the scores reported by the charter school board. One reason for the difference is that the charter school board included the scores of children who received special accomodations during the testing as a result of special needs or limited English proficiency, which DCPS did not include those students when computing the schools' scores.

Diversity Index
The probability that two students selected at random will be of different ethnic backgrounds, a measure of ethnic diversity. This is calculated by subtracting the sum of the square of the percentage of black students with the square of the percentage of white students, the square of the percentage of Asian students and the square of the percentage of Native American students from 1 and multiplying by 100.

Dropout Rate
The number of students who withdraw from a high school without graduating divided by the number of total students at that high school.

8th Grade Algebra Completion
The number of eighth-graders completing Algebra I divided by the total number of eighth-grade students. This is considered to be a measure of the difficulty of the middle school curriculum.

% Earning High School Certificate
In Maryland, this is the number of students who meet special education program requirements but can't meet high school graduation requirements divided by the number of total students. In Virginia, this is the number of students who fulfill a set of requirements prescribed by a local school board but don't qualify for a diploma divided by the number of graduates.

% Earning High School Diploma
The number of students who meet the state high school graduation requirements divided by the total number of graduates.

% Earning Special High School Diploma
In Virginia, this is the number of students who meet special education program requirements but can't meet high school graduation requirements divided by the number of graduates.

First Year Teacher Rate
The number of first-year teachers at a school divided by the total number of classroom teachers. Lower rates indicate a more experienced teaching staff.

Free and Reduced Lunch
The number of students who qualify for the federal free or reduced meals program divided by the total number of students. A higher number indicates a lower economic status, which correlates to lower academic performance.

High Absentee Rate
The number of students with a certain number of unexcused absences per year divided by the number of total students. In Maryland, students are considered truant if they are absent for more than 20 days. In Virginia, it is six days. The District does not track school level absentee rate.

Maryland School Performance Assessment Program
According to the Maryland Department of Education, the MSPAP was a test of math, science, writing and language usages, social studies given to "Maryland's 3rd, 5th, and 8th graders to test their mastery of the basics and how well they applied knowledge in authentic problem-solving situations. MSPAP's primary purpose was to provide information that could be used to improve instruction in schools." Each student took part of the overall test, so there are no student-level data. Because there were problems grading the 2001-2002 tests, this guide provides test scores from 2000-2001 as the most recent accurate student assessment. Starting in the 2002-2003 school year, Maryland public schools started using a new test, the Maryland Student Assessment, which many administrators and teachers think is a more effective evaluation.

Nearby Schools
Other schools that fall within a certain radius of the initial school. The radius is based on the distance between the center points of the schools' zip code. The radius is smaller for more densely populated areas.

PTA/PTO Participation Rate
The number of PTA or PTO members divided by the number of students in a school. Higher numbers indicate greater parental involvement.

Student Attendance Rate
The average percentage of the total student body that attends each day.

Student Mobility
The number of students entering or leaving a school mid-year divided by the total number of students. A high number may be a cause of classroom disruption.

Student-Teacher Ratio
The number of students in a school divided by the number of classroom teachers.

Suspension Rate
The number of suspensions in a school divided by the number of enrolled students expressed as the number of suspensions per 1,000 students. The number of suspensions was asked in the school survey and the enrollment came from the U.S. Department of Education's Common Core of Data.

% Teaching Outside Field
In Maryland, this is the number of teachers who taught at least one class in a subject for which they are not certified. In Virginia, this is the number of teachers who taught at least one class in a subject for which they are not endorsed. In DC, this is the number of teachers who taught at least one class in a subject for which they are not licensed. For example, a teacher certified in social studies teaching English.

Test Scores
Overall performance of students in a school on benchmark standardized tests -- Stanford-9 tests in the District, MSPAP in Maryland and SOLs in Virginia. Because of the differences in the tests, comparisons between states or their jurisdictions on test scores are not possible.

Top Quartiles
Schools were ranked based on which of four groups they fell into based on their quality measures. Each quartile is calculated using the number of schools that particular measure applies to that provided numbers. The top quartile of PTA/PTO participation consists of the 25 percent of middle schools and elementary schools with the highest PTA or PTO participation rate. The top quartile of dropout rate is the 25 percent of high school with the lowest dropout rate.

Total Suspensions
The number of students suspended per school year. Maryland and the District of Columbia do not compile school-level suspension statistics.

Virgina Standards of Learning (SOL)
Virginia standardized tests are administered to students in grades 3, 5, 8 and 11. Four main subject testing areas--math, English, social studies and science--are comprised of several more specifically focused sub-tests. Starting with the class of 2004, Virginia seniors need to pass six SOL tests to graduate.