All Franklin public schools now accredited

Published 12:14 pm Saturday, September 29, 2018


The Virginia Department of Education on Thursday reported the first school ratings under new state accreditation standards, which now list all three of Franklin’s public schools as accredited.

According to Charles Pyle, director of communications for the VDOE, the new standards, which were approved by the state Board of Education last November, are intended to promote continuous achievement in all schools, close achievement gaps and expand accountability beyond overall performance on Standards of Learning tests. The new standards also now recognize the academic growth of students making significant annual progress toward meeting grade-level expectations in English and math.

Pyle explained that schools are now evaluated on school quality indicators, which include students’ SOL scores in English, math and science; achievement gaps in English and math; and chronic absenteeism. High schools have two additional indicators: dropout rate and graduation/completion rate. High schools will also be evaluated for college, career and civic readiness beginning during the 2021-2022 school year.

Schools are classified into one of three levels based on each indicator. Level one is defined as meeting or exceeding the state standard or making sufficient improvement. Level two is defined as being near the state standard or making sufficient improvement. Level three is defined as being below the state standard. A school can also be deemed too small in one or more indicators if the VDOE finds that there are too few students enrolled to effectively evaluate it.

According to the VDOE’s new school quality website,, S.P. Morton scored a level one rating on math and science SOL scores and an level two performance rating on English SOL scores. In the achievement gap indicator, it scored level two overall ratings in both math and English. It also scored a level two rating for chronic absenteeism.

An overall level two score in the achievement gap indicator is defined as two or more student demographic groups at level two and no more than one group at level three. S.P. Morton’s English achievement gap results indicate that Asian students, English learners, Hispanic students and white students all scored at level one, while black and economically disadvantaged students scored at level two. Students with disabilities scored at level three.

S.P. Morton’s math achievement gap results showed all demographics at level one except for students with disabilities, which were at level three.

Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 10 percent or more of the school year for any reason. Schools with a current-year or three-year average of no more than 15 percent of its student body being classified as chronically absent or schools with level two chronic absenteeism that decrease their absenteeism rate by 10 percent or more from the prior year are classified at level one. S.P. Morton’s level two absenteeism rating means it has a current-year or three-year average rate of more than 15 percent but less than 25 percent. A level two absenteeism rate may also result if a school would have had a level three absenteeism rate during the prior year — defined as 25 percent or more, or a level two rating for more than four consecutive years — but managed to bring that figure down by 10 percent or more.

Schools with all school quality indicators at either level one or two, which now include S.P. Morton, are granted accreditation. High-performing schools with waivers from annual accreditation authorized by the General Assembly are also rated as accredited. Schools with one or more school quality indicators at level three are rated as accredited with conditions, and only schools that fail to adopt or fully implement required corrective actions to address level three school quality indicators are denied accreditation.

As for J.P. King Jr. Middle School, which had already achieved accreditation under the previous standards during the 2017-2018 school year, the new school quality website lists JPK as level one across the board. Franklin High School, which was also already accredited under the previous standards, scored a level one SOL performance in English and science and a level two rating in math. In the achievement gap indicator, it scored level one in English and level two in math.

In student engagement and outcomes, it scored level one in dropout rate and graduation rate and level two in chronic absenteeism.

According to a press release from Franklin City Public Schools’ deputy superintendent, Kelvin Edwards Sr., this marks the first time in eight years that all three city schools are accredited. FCPS, since 2010, had been under a memorandum of understanding with the VDOE due to poor academic performance. Edwards said that all schools’ new accredited status will allow the division to exit the MOU and reassume all operational control.

“This is an amazing accomplishment for the school division and our community,” said FCPS Superintendent Tamara Sterling. “This milestone in our journey towards greatness signifies that we have an amazing instructional and administrative team that dedicates each minute to providing a high-quality education to every child.”

With the new accreditation standards in place, only one school in Virginia was withheld accreditation this school year: Carver Elementary in Richmond. Last year, by comparison, 87 schools across the state were denied accreditation under the VDOE’s old rules.

“I am pleased that these ratings show that — in the vast majority of our schools — most students are either meeting or exceeding Virginia’s high standards, or they are on their way toward grade-level proficiency,” Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane said. “But the ratings also reveal that in many schools, there are achievement gaps undetected by the previous accreditation system. Every student in the commonwealth deserves a high-quality educational experience, and we hope that by shining a light on these gaps our schools will continue to develop innovative strategies that result in equitable outcomes for our children.”

“The new system is already helping school divisions focus resources where they are most needed to ensure that all children are receiving a high-quality education,” Board of Education President Daniel A. Gecker said. “Rather than putting a label on a school, we are helping schools and the communities they serve set priorities and plan for continuous improvement.”