Local schools warned by state

Published 1:26 pm Saturday, September 22, 2012

Two Franklin Schools have been downgraded this year from full accreditation to accreditation with a warning due to state test scores that were lower than set benchmarks.

S.P. Morton Elementary has four years to improve students’ state Standards of Learning test scores in reading, while J.P. King Middle School must improve its students’ scores in math, or risk having accreditation denied.

The schools will now undergo academic reviews and will be required to implement school improvement plans, said VDOE Spokeswoman Julie Grimes.

Superintendent Dr. Michelle Belle said S.P. Morton missed the state benchmark of a 75 average in reading by one point, but will work to correct it.

“We have to work to get our scores to the place they need to be,” she said. “We have good administrative teams in place and the teachers are working hard.”

She said the school devotes 90 minutes of class time to reading, writing or guided reading each day.

“It will be interesting to see if there will need to be any tweaks to that,” she said.

Math scores were what hurt J.P. King, Belle said.

This is the first year that these schools have been in warning status. Last year 96 percent of all state schools were fully accredited, Grimes said.

In addition, S.P. Morton is a focus school, based on federal standards that replace adequate yearly progress.

As a result the school must use an outside contractor to develop an academic review and meet on a monthly basis, implement and monitor an improvement plan. The division must also implement school and division leadership teams as well as meet other requirements.

J.P. King is considered a priority school.

As a result the school must use a third party contractor to help improve scores and establish annual goals for achievement as well as other requirements.

Belle added that the schools won’t be taken over by the state.

“I haven’t heard of the state taking over a school in 19 years,” she said. “We are not in a position where the state will take us over.”

Franklin School Board Chairwoman Edna King couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.