Eighty-six percent of schools in Virginia were fully accredited this year, marking a five-point rise in the number of schools that met the state’s benchmark for student achievement over the previous year.
All the schools in 65 of the state’s 132 school districts were fully accredited, including four in Northern Virginia — Arlington County, Falls Church City, Loudoun County and Manassas Park City, according to Virginia Department of Education results released Wednesday.
“I congratulate the teachers, principals, support staff and other educators in these schools for their hard work and dedication to helping students meet the commonwealth’s high expectations for learning and achievement,” Steven R. Staples, superintendent of public instruction, said in a statement.
In Fairfax County, the state’s largest school district, seven of 194 schools did not receive full accreditation. Five were partially accredited while two schools, Mount Vernon Woods and Saratoga elementary schools, are among 92 schools in the state still in danger of being denied accreditation. Those remaining schools will have their status determined upon further state review.
“Accreditation is an important part of assessing progress, and we plan to continue to strive for higher levels of excellence as we aim to have 100 percent of our schools fully accredited,” Fairfax superintendent Scott Brabrand said in a statement. “However, we understand that schools are much more than any single day’s test score, and recognize that schools making progress toward accreditation deserve recognition for their work.”
Eighty-eight Virginia schools were denied accreditation. That represented 5 percent of all schools in the state.
Jefferson-Houston Elementary School in Alexandria was the only school in Northern Virginia to be denied accreditation outright — the sixth consecutive year the school has not been accredited. About one-fourth of Alexandria schools fell short of full accreditation.
In a news release, the school district noted that “remarkable academic growth” has occurred at Jefferson-Houston in the past few years, including a 19 percentage point increase in standardized tests scores in English and a 20 percentage point increase in math.
“Our accreditation results remain largely consistent with the previous year and Jefferson-Houston’s notable academic growth in such a short period of time is particularly significant,” interim superintendent Lois F. Berlin said in the release.
The other Northern Virginia school denied accreditation last year, Fred M. Lynn Middle School in Prince William County, will have its status determined later. Four other schools in the the county didn’t meet full accreditation standards, down from 10 the year before.
Superintendent Steve Walts touted those gains in a news release and said the district has committed to making further progress.
“We’re very proud of the progress toward full accreditation and committed to using the latest results to make even more improvements where they are needed the most,” Walts said.
The Virginia Department of Education highlighted 41 schools that gained full accreditation after being denied that stamp of approval last year.
Those improvements, Charles Pyle, a VDOE spokesman said, reflect changes made by individual schools as well as a growing comfort with more rigorous state tests that were introduced in recent years.
Student performance on state assessments from the 2016-17 academic year were used to determine accreditation status for the current academic year.
At fully accredited schools, at least 70 percent of students must achieve pass rates in math, science and history while 75 percent of students must pass English tests. Graduation rates also factor into ratings for high schools.
The state’s Board of Education is weighing significant changes to the way it determines accreditation to account for more factors, including chronic student absenteeism and achievement gaps.
A final vote on the changes, which would be implemented for the 2018-19 academic year, is scheduled in November.