Fifteen of 16 Fauquier County public schools taking Virginia tests received full state accreditation this year, including, for the first time, all 10 elementary schools.
Cedar Lee Middle School in Bealeton met the accreditation standards in math, science and history but missed full accreditation by four percentage points in Grade 8 English.
"Our accreditation results show that we are continuing on that journey of improvement, and that, as a result, our students are performing," said J. David Martin, superintendent of Fauquier County public schools.
"Are we there yet? No. We have a lot of work to do. We have taken very seriously the federal mandate of No Child Left Behind, and we want to ensure that all of our students are performing at their optimum level."
Achieving state accreditation is separate from achieving "adequate yearly progress" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. In Virginia, both are measured using Standards of Learning test results. But the federal law requires schools to meet target pass rates in each of several subgroups of students, including some minority groups, disabled students, poor students and students who are learning English as a second language. The state, by contrast, averages all students' scores on each test at each grade level.
Five Fauquier schools received full accreditation in 2001-02, 11 in 2002-03 and 15 last year.
SOL test results for the Southeastern Alternative School are factored in with the scores of the students' home schools. The scores of sister schools Thompson Elementary and Coleman Elementary are factored together for accreditation purposes. Fauquier's newest school, Auburn Middle, was not open at the time of this testing.
Fauquier's highest passing rates were in eighth-grade science (90 percent), fifth-grade science (89.9 percent) and third-grade science and math (89.1 percent). For the third year in a row, students at Cedar Lee scored 100 percent on end-of-course tests in Algebra I and geometry.
Liberty High School experienced a 22 percentage point increase in chemistry test scores and a 13 percentage point increase in U.S. history.
P.B. Smith Elementary School saw a 20 percentage point increase in fourth-grade history test scores, and Mary Walter Elementary School had a 17 percentage point increase in those scores. Mary Walter had received only provisional accreditation last year.
Fifteen percentage point increases were achieved by James G. Brumfield Elementary School in third-grade English, Grace Miller Elementary School in third-grade history, H.M. Pearson Elementary School in fifth-grade math and Warrenton Middle School in eighth-grade reading.
Fauquier High School saw a 14 percentage point increase in earth science and a 13 percentage point increase in Algebra II. Scores went up by 13 percentage points at W.G. Coleman Elementary School in fourth-grade history.
C. Hunter Ritchie Elementary School, which was named a Virginia Blue Ribbon School this year, had a two percentage point increase in third-grade math to reach a nearly 99 percent passing rate.
Statewide, 1,514 (84 percent) of Virginia's 1,807 schools achieved a fully accredited rating. Last year, 1,423 (78 percent) of the schools were fully accredited.
This year's state accreditation standards were more stringent than last year's for elementary students. A 75 percent pass rate is now required in English, compared with 70 percent in previous years. In addition, science and history scores for third-graders counted in previous years only if they helped boost a school's overall rating. This year, all scores for those third-grade tests were counted, with a target pass rate of 50 percent.
-- LESLIE SHEPHERD