J.P. King makes the grade

Published 8:36 am Friday, August 14, 2009

FRANKLIN—After years of struggling academically, Franklin’s J.P. King Middle School will be fully accredited by the Virginia Department of Education this school year, according to preliminary data recently released to the school division.

“I am ecstatic about the results we received,” said Superintendent Dr. Michelle Belle. All three of the city’s schools will be fully accredited.

Accreditation results are based on pass rates from Standards of Learning, or SOL, testing last spring.

J.P. King, a Title 1 school, now has exited “school-improvement” status.

Belle said that she is excited about all three schools, but the past challenges at J.P. King make its status even more special. Last year, the school was accredited with warnings in math, history and science. Belle said that the school made it in all three subjects this year.

The last time J.P. King was fully accredited was the 2005-06 school year. Rodney Berry, the school’s new principal, said that the school’s turnaround required lot of work from staff at the school and central office as well as support from the School Board. He is looking forward to his first year at the school and even better results next year.

“We’re celebrating the results,” he said. “But we’re looking forward to improving our pass rate and closing the achievement gap between subgroups.”

Belle said that school officials will be working to make sure that all three schools maintain their fully accredited status in the future.

“You can’t just sit back and relax,” Belle said. “We have to keep pushing and change the mindset. Our students can achieve.”

School officials in both Isle of Wight and Southampton counties are also expecting all of their schools to earn state accreditation based on the preliminary data. Official accreditation results will be released this fall.