School districts pass the test

Published 8:33 am Friday, September 18, 2009

FRANKLIN—All public schools in Franklin and Southampton and Isle of Wight counties are fully accredited by the Virginia Department of Education this year as a result of student achievement on the Standards of Learning tests last spring.

Last month, preliminary results released to school divisions showed that all of the region’s public schools would be fully accredited, but the ratings released Wednesday make it official.

Southampton Middle School, J.P. King Middle School in Franklin and Windsor Middle School in Isle of Wight County were “accredited with warning” last year, but all three are fully accredited this year.

Dr. Michelle Belle, superintendent of Franklin City Schools, said school officials are happy to be fully accredited, but they have their eyes set on another goal.

“We were excited because it’s the first time in history that all Franklin City Schools have been fully accredited,” she said. Now the goal is to increase pass rates on SOL tests to the upper 80 percent and 90 percent range.

Franklin schools will continue to partner with the University of Virginia and offer daytime remediation programs as well as after-school programs.

“These are the things that are going to help us reach that next level,” Belle said.

Southampton County Schools Superintendent Charles Turner said he is “delighted” that all schools in the county are fully accredited.

“Through the utilization of the school division’s specific focus areas, teachers’ instructional leadership and preparedness, administrators’ use of data combined with the implementation of the new K-12 Pathways to Excellence Program, focused on increasing the academic performance of students in all academic areas, I felt that all schools would be fully accredited,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Dr. Michael McPherson, superintendent of Isle of Wight County Schools, said he was pleased with the progress the county schools made.

“The results indicate that our efforts to increase the academic rigor at every grade level are paying off,” he said in a news release. “We are pleased that all nine schools are not only accredited, but are achieving at higher levels than ever before.”

In middle and high schools, a pass rate of at least 70 percent in all four core subject areas, English, mathematics, history and science, is required for full accreditation.

In elementary schools, a combined pass rate of at least 75 percent on English tests in third through fifth grades is required for full accreditation. Elementary schools also must achieve pass rates of at least 70 percent in mathematics, fifth-grade science and fifth-grade history, and pass rates of at least 50 percent in third-grade science and third-grade history.

Local schools are among the 98 percent of public schools in Virginia to meet or exceed objectives on SOL tests and other statewide assessments. That’s the highest percentage of fully accredited schools since the state began rating schools 10 years ago.

“Virginia’s public schools have accomplished what many 10 years ago thought was impossible,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia Wright.