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Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
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204 Broad Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Area schools fully accredited

Thursday, September 27, 2012

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

Henry County, Martinsville and Patrick County are among 85 school divisions in Virginia in which all schools are fully accredited for the 2012-13 school year, according to the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).

Last year, all three local school divisions were among 97 in Virginia in which all schools were fully accredited. There are 132 school divisions in the state.

The results announced Wednesday were based on the performance of students on SOL and other state assessments during 2011-12, VDOE stated.

“I was pleased that 100 percent of our schools were fully accredited, as anticipated,” said Henry County Schools Superintendent Jared Cotton. He added that school system officials saw preliminary data.

“We had some challenges with the new math assessment, but our schools were still able to make the benchmark,” he said.

He explained the new math assessment was more rigorous and different in some other ways than in the past. Some schools in the system had to use three-year averages, taking advantage of their high passing rates in previous years, he said.

“The fact that our schools did as well as they did is a testament to the hard work of students, teachers and parents working together to ensure all students are successful. We can’t do it alone. It’s all working together. I’m very proud of our of our students and our staff,” Cotton said.

Martinsville Schools Superintendent Pam Heath echoed Cotton’s comments.

“Of course, we were really pleased all our schools were accredited” and happy to be one of 85 divisions to achieve that, she said. “That being said, we are always looking to improve. The SOL (Standards of Learning) tests are supposed to be minimum standards.”

The state is phasing in more rigorous standards, and “we have to raise the level of rigor,” Heath said.

She also praised the hard work of students, teachers, other staff, families and the community. It takes everyone working together, she said.

Patrick County Schools Superintendent Roger Morris concurred.

“We’re obviously very pleased. It’s certainly a credit to staff, students, the community and parents,” he said. He added there always is room for growth in test scores.

The Department of Education said Wednesday that 93 percent of Virginia’s 1,836 public schools are fully accredited and meet all state standards in English, math, history and science — and graduation, in the case of high schools.

Ninety-six percent of Virginia’s elementary schools and 88 percent of middle schools are fully accredited for the 2012-13 school year, a VDOE news release states.

The percentage of fully accredited high schools rose to 90 percent, compared with 86 percent last year when the board of education began including a “graduation and completion index” into the accountability formula for high schools, in addition to student achievement on state tests.

The graduation and completion index system awards full credit for students who earn a board-recognized diploma and partial credit for students who earn GEDs and local credentials, as well as for students who still are enrolled and expected to return for a fifth year of high school. High schools must have a graduation and completion index of at least 85 for full accreditation, the release states.

The percentage of schools earning full accreditation for 2012-13 is three points lower than the percentage that earned the highest rating for 2011-12, the release states.

“This year’s decrease in the percentage of schools meeting the fully accredited rating is attributed, in part, to results of the new college- and career-ready mathematics tests that were first introduced during 2011-12,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright said in the release. “We can expect a similar impact next year when we see the results of schools implementing more rigorous standards and tests in English and science this school year.”


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