Progress Continues Toward All Schools Being Fully Accredited

For Immediate Release
September 14, 2016
Contact: Steve Edwards, Coordinator of Policy and Communications
540-662-3888 ext. 88235


The Virginia Department of Education has fully accredited 13 Frederick County Public Schools and partially accredited four others based on results of the Standards of Learning (SOL) tests administered during the 2015-16 school year. Apple Pie Ridge Elementary, Armel Elementary, Bass-Hoover Elementary, Evendale Elementary, Greenwood Mill Elementary, Indian Hollow Elementary, Middletown Elementary, Orchard View Elementary, Admiral Richard E. Byrd Middle, Robert E. Aylor Middle, James Wood High, Millbrook High and Sherando High have all been Fully Accredited.

Gainesboro Elementary School, Stonewall Elementary School and James Wood Middle School have each been designated as Partially Accredited: Approaching Benchmark-Pass Rate. Redbud Run Elementary School has been designated as Partially Accredited: Warned School-Pass Rate. Frederick County Middle School, which was designated as a Partially Accredited: Reconstituted School in January, will have its accreditation status assigned by the Virginia Board of Education later this month. Under the Board's regulations, a Partially Accredited: Reconstituted School rating may be granted for up to three years if a school is making progress toward full accreditation.

Schools Superintendent David Sovine says, "Accreditation status is one of many measures of a school's success and we are pleased to have more schools fully accredited this year than were fully accredited a year ago. The progress that is being made across the school division is a result of staff being relentlessly focused on student learning through evidence-based teaching practices. Our instructional approach is paying dividends as evidenced by the fact that the number of schools that are fully accredited has risen from nine in 2014-15 to 13 in 2016-17. In addition, the number of schools designated as a Warned School has decreased from nine to one over the same period."

Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Jim Angelo says, "While there is always room for growth, our SOL results from last year and the associated accreditation ratings indicate our school improvement efforts are having a positive impact on student achievement. The gains made represent a great deal of work on the part of our students, teachers, administrators and staff. By thinking creatively and engaging in strategic risk-taking, teachers and staff are impacting students in ways that cannot be measured by an end-of- year assessment only. By providing students with critical thinking and problem-solving experiences that engage them in the learning process, we increase their understanding and depth of knowledge. As a result of this approach, higher test scores will follow and most importantly, our students will be well prepared to become successful, engaged citizens." School accreditation ratings reflect student achievement on SOL tests or other approved assessments administered in the core academic areas of English, history/social science, mathematics and science. This year's ratings are based on student achievement on the SOL tests taken during the 2015-16 school year or a three-year average of achievement.

In order for elementary, middle and high schools to be fully accredited, students must achieve SOL pass rates of 75 percent or higher in English and 70 percent or higher in mathematics, science and history/social science. In addition, high schools must meet or exceed the required benchmark for the state's Graduation and Completion Index.

Schools close to earning full accreditation, or making acceptable progress, earn one of the following ratings:
  • Partially Accredited: Approaching Benchmark-Pass Rate – Schools that are not Fully Accredited but that are within a two-point narrow margin of the adjusted SOL pass rates required for full accreditation in one or more subject areas

  • Partially Accredited: Approaching Benchmark-Graduation and Completion Index – High schools that have attained the adjusted pass rates required for full accreditation and that are within one point of the Graduation and Completion Index (GCI) required for full accreditation

  • Partially Accredited: Improving School-Pass Rate – Schools that are not Fully Accredited and do not qualify for a rating of  Partially Accredited: Approaching Benchmark-Pass Rate, but that are making acceptable progress toward full accreditation or that are raising the achievement of low-performing students

  • Partially Accredited: Improving School-Graduation and Completion Index – High schools that have attained the adjusted pass rates required for full accreditation, and that have improved their GCI by at least one point from the previous year, but that are not within a narrow margin of the GCI required for full accreditation

  • Partially Accredited: Warned School-Pass Rate – Schools that are not within a narrow margin of, nor making acceptable progress toward, achieving the adjusted SOL pass rates required for full accreditation

  • Partially Accredited: Warned School-Graduation and Completion Index – High schools that have achieved the adjusted SOL pass rates required for full accreditation, but that are not within a narrow margin of, nor making acceptable progress toward, achieving the GCI required for full accreditation

  • Partially Accredited-Reconstituted School – Schools that fail to meet the requirements for full accreditation for four consecutive years and receive permission from the state Board of Education to reconstitute. A reconstituted school reverts to accreditation-denied status if it fails to meet full accreditation requirements within the agreed-upon term, or if it fails to have its annual application for Partially Accredited-Reconstituted School renewed.
A school may be denied accreditation if it fails to meet the requirements for full or provisional accreditation for four consecutive years. Any school denied accreditation must provide parents and other interested parties with written notice of the school's accreditation rating within 30 days of the announcement of the rating by the Virginia Department of
Education; a copy of the school division's proposed corrective action plan describing the steps to be taken to raise achievement to state standards, including a timeline for implementation; and an opportunity to comment on the division's proposed corrective action plan prior to its adoption and the signing of the memorandum of understanding between the local school board and Virginia Board of Education.

The Virginia Department of Education has also identified Virginia Priority and Virginia Focus Schools for 2016-17 based on the reading and/or math achievement of students in three proficiency gap groups. Gap Group 1 includes students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students and English language learners. Gap Group 2 includes black students. Gap Group 3 includes Hispanic students.

No Frederick County Public Schools were identified as Virginia Priority Schools this year. Virginia Priority Schools are the lowest performing five percent of Title I schools across the Commonwealth. Priority Schools must engage a state-approved turnaround partner to help implement a school improvement model meeting state and federal requirements.

Ten percent of Virginia's Title I schools, after accounting for Virginia Priority Schools, are identified as Virginia Focus Schools. Schools identified as Virginia Focus Schools retain their designation for a minimum of two years unless they are subsequently identified as a Virginia Priority School or no longer receive federal Title I funding. Redbud Run Elementary School has been identified as a Virginia Focus School for the third consecutive year. Middletown Elementary is in the required second year of being identified as a Virginia Focus School although its accreditation status has improved from being Partially Accredited: Warned School-Pass Rate last year to Fully Accredited this year. Overall, the number of Frederick County schools identified as Virginia Focus Schools has decreased from five in 2015-16 to two in 2016-17. Virginia Focus Schools must employ a state-approved coach to help the division develop, implement and monitor intervention strategies to improve the performance of at-risk students.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that was signed into law by President Obama in December 2015 designates 2016-17 as a transition year with regards to federal school accountability. The new ESSA eliminates many No Child Left Behind Act era requirements and provides states with greater flexibility. Over the next year, the U.S. Department of Education will
be developing final regulations related to the ESSA and states will be creating implementation plans. The new law and the provisions of each state's ESSA implementation plan will go into full effect with the beginning of the 2017-18 school year. 

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