The Botetourt school division was among 65 Virginia divisions that had every school Fully Accredited during the 2016-17 school year, according to an announcement by the Virginia Department of Education (DOE) last week. There are 132 school divisions in the state.
It’s the second year in a row all of Botetourt’s schools have been fully accredited.
The Virginia Department of Education announced that 86 percent, or 1,573, of the Commonwealth’s 1,823 public schools are rated as Fully Accredited for this school year, based on the performance of students on Standards of Learning (SOL) and other state-approved assessments in English, mathematics, science and history during 2016-2017.
This represents a five-point improvement over last year, when 81 percent of schools earned the state’s top accountability rating.
Last year, 53 school divisions had every school fully accredited.
For a school to earn full accreditation, students must achieve adjusted 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 for graduation and completion. Accreditation ratings may also reflect an average of achievement over several years.
2017-2018 Accreditation Ratings
“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,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples said. “I also want to thank and encourage educators in schools that are making progress as they move closer to achieving full accreditation. As we begin the transition to a new accountability system that recognizes growth and includes important outcomes such as achievement gaps and dropout rates, a commitment to continued improvement in all schools will be vital to our success.”
Botetourt County Assistant Superintendent of Schools Dr. Janet Womack also announced the full accreditation for Botetourt schools during last weeks’ regular School Board meeting. She told the board she will give a more detailed report on the county schools at the board’s October meeting.
In June, the state Board of Education approved revisions to the Standards of Accreditation that place increased emphasis on closing achievement gaps between student groups – and continuous improvement in all schools – while providing a more comprehensive view of school quality. A final vote on the revised standards by the board is expected in November.
Neighboring school divisions that also had Full Accreditation are Craig County, Roanoke County, Salem, Covington and Lexington.
According to the DOE, 88 schools in 27 divisions are denied state accreditation for 2017-2018 because of persistently low student achievement.
Schools denied accreditation are subject to corrective actions prescribed by the state Board of Education through a memorandum of understanding with the local school board.
The status of 92 schools at risk of being denied accreditation for 2017-2018 will be determined by the Board of Education later this year. Under Virginia’s current accountability regulations, a school that has not earned full accreditation for three consecutive years – and fails to meet state standards for a fourth consecutive year – can apply for a rating of Partially Accredited: Reconstituted School if the local school board agrees to reconstitute the school’s leadership, staff, governance or student population. A reconstituted school can retain this rating for up to three years if it is making acceptable progress.
Like state accreditation ratings, federal accountability designations are based on achievement on SOL tests during 2016-2017, with accountability requirements focused on schools that receive Title I funding to support services for economically disadvantaged students. The lowest-performing Title I schools are identified as either Priority or Focus schools.
The state’s 22 Priority schools must design and implement school-reform models that meet state and federal requirements.