Franklin, IOW, Southampton, public schools all see gains

Published 9:42 am Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Franklin—With the Virginia Department of Education releasing its 2014-15 accreditation ratings report on Tuesday, schools throughout the state on average declined for a second year in a row as far as meeting state accreditation per Standards of Learning scores. That said, there were some improvements locally, with four schools rising to accreditation status. Four local schools are accredited with warning, but no school that had been previously accredited lost the status.

Franklin City

Franklin High School is now fully accredited, while J.P. King Middle School and S.P. Morton Elementary School remain as two of the schools accredited with warning.

“We are excited for the progress made at Franklin High School of full accreditation and strive to achieve full accreditation of all Franklin City Public Schools,” said Superintendent Willie J. Bell. “We will continue to monitor the written, taught and assessed curriculum in all areas at all schools.”

J.P. King and S.P. Morton are both still Priority Schools. To get that status, the Title I school must fall into the bottom 5 percent of schools. Once there, the schools remain for three years while they receive assistance from a partner program. Both schools use Catapult Learning. S.P. Morton became a priority school in the 2013-14 school year, and will remain so until at least the 2016-17 school year, regardless of any improvements. J.P. King, which was named a priority school in the 2012-13 school year, could get out of that status in the 2015-16 year depending on how the scores stack up.

If J.P. King were eligible to be out of priority this year, it would be based on its Annual Measurable Objectives being out of the bottom 5 percent, said Charles Pyle, director of communications with VDOE. S.P. Morton, however, would still be in the bottom 5 percent based on its Annual Measurable Objectives, he said.

Bell said the school system will continue to work toward improvement.

“After analyzing the data, we have a laser-like focus on all our areas of deficiency to make the necessary systemic changes for improvement division-wide,” he said, and noted that there were improvements as well. “FCPS exceeded the state average in Algebra II, Biology, Chemistry and World History I.”

A continued part of that focus, Bell said, would be to “continue to solicit the support of all stakeholders as we work to improve our school system.”

Isle of Wight County

Windsor High School is now fully accredited. Carrsville Elementary School, Georgie D. Tyler Middle School, Windsor Elementary School remain fully accredited.

“I am pleased that all of our schools are accredited and fully accredited again,” said Superintendent Dr. Katrise Perera. “We have set high expectations for both ourselves and our students to strive toward, so it is rewarding to see this being accomplished at our schools on a daily basis.”

In many instances, the schools are well above the state benchmarks, including Windsor High School, which had been accredited with warning in math.

“Mr. Soderholm and his team did a fantastic job in addressing student achievement gaps at Windsor High School,” Perera said. “By working collaboratively to address the increased rigor, the teachers were able to integrate key concepts into their daily instruction, which produced positive results.”

The only potential challenge going forward is Windsor Elementary on the English SOL test, which has an increased benchmark of 75, compared to 70 in the other categories.

The elementary school only meets accreditation on its three-year average, which is 77. However, during the 2015-16 year, the school will lose its 90 percent pass rate of 2012-2013. With ‘13-14 and ‘14-15 scores of 70 percent and 73 percent, the school would have to rely on passing at least 75 percent of students to meet the benchmark for full accreditation.

“The teachers at Windsor Elementary are focused on identifying struggling learners and matching them with programs to assist their needs,” Perera said. “Relationship building is the best way to truly identify a student’s academic needs and that will be critical in mastering the technique of personalized learning.”

Based on professional development centered on relationship building and personalized learning strategies, she expected that the Isle of Wight County Schools would continue to rise, Perera said.

“Our teachers and students are working hard to meet the challenges of the increased rigor of the state assessments, and the evidence is in the scores,” she said. “As a school division, we will continue to push ourselves toward improvement.

“We are absolutely committed to our mission of preparing all 21st-century learners for educational excellence, and as superintendent it is my goal to provide the resources necessary to accomplish this ​on a global level.”

It is worth noting that two of the schools outside of The Tidewater News coverage area, Hardy Elementary and Carrollton Elementary schools, were accredited with warning in math.

Southampton County

Nottoway Elementary School and Southampton Middle School are now fully accredited, while Meherrin Elementary School and Southampton High School remain fully accredited. On the other hand, Capron Elementary School and Riverdale Elementary School remain accredited with warning.

On the one hand, Superintendent Dr. Alvera Parrish said she was excited to see schools formerly accredited with warning in math come out of it.

“We are excited to have all three schools that were accredited with warning in the area of math come out of that status,” she said. “And we are excited because not only were they just barely improving, but we improved to a great extent.”

Nottoway and Southampton Middle had been accredited with warning in math, but now with a score of 85 and 75, respectively, the two schools met the benchmark for full accreditation.

Capron and Riverdale improved in math, for which they had been warned. Capron jumped to an 82 percent pass rate, while Riverdale was at 79 percent. Capron had been accredited in English based on its 3-year average; however, a 1-year score of 67 percent this year dropped the average from 77 to to 72 percent.

On the other hand, Parrish did note that the system somewhat struggled on the reading and writing English tests. She said that it’s a problem statewide. This will be the third year of not only increased rigor for the test, but also a higher accreditation benchmark.

“It is going to take that at least a year to catch up to that new test,” Parrish said. “That reading test is about endurance. How long can you have students reading long passages, and then having questions with multiple answers at the very end? It is no longer multiple choice. That’s a challenge for younger children.”

Based on where the children are this year, and implementing new strategies, such as a new reading series and improving instruction and curriculum in the schools to match what is being tested, that the reading warnings will soon be a thing of the past.

“We truly believe that that is going to bring the success with the English test this year,” Parrish said. “I believe that we are going to make everybody proud.”

With the exception of English, Parrish said she thinks Southampton performed well overall, and this year it’s going to be even better.

“We are off to a great start this year,” she said. “We are also focused on more school and community relationships, with the involvement of parents and all stakeholders — because we are in it together. As I said when I first came to Southampton, ‘Team work makes the dream work.’”