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All county schools but one accredited

Sunday, September 22, 2013

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

All schools in the Henry County school system have been fully accredited for 2013-14, except for Mount Olivet Elementary School, which was accredited with warning, schools Superintendent Jared Cotton said.

Mount Olivet received that rating because it missed the benchmark pass rate for math on Standards of Learning (SOL) tests by 3 percentage points, using the three-year average, Cotton said. A school can meet a benchmark using the pass rate either for the current year (in this case, SOL tests given in 2012-13) or the three-year average pass rate, he said.

Mount Olivet had a three-year average pass rate of 67 percent for math for grades 3 through 5 combined, but the benchmark was 70 percent or higher, Cotton said.

According to information on the Virginia Department of Education website, “A school receives an Accredited with Warning rating if its adjusted pass rates for the four core subjects are below the achievement levels required for full accreditation. Schools that receive this rating undergo academic reviews and are required to adopt and implement school improvement plans. Schools that are warned in English and/or mathematics are also required to adopt instructional programs proven by research to be effective in raising achievement in these subjects. A school may hold this rating for no more than three consecutive years.”

“They (Mount Olivet) will have to complete a school improvement plan similar to what we require of all our schools,” Cotton said. Mount Olivet will have to document that it is implementing research-based practices related to math, he added.

He said the school division has been focusing on inquiry-based learning in math and is implementing a MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) assessment to determine each student’s instructional level and measure academic growth, among other things.

According to Cotton and DeWitt House, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, the school division already has developed a tiered approach for providing technical assistance/instructional support to schools.

House said his department will provide more intensive instructional support for Mount Olivet and will visit the school once every nine weeks. Information also will be entered into a state data base so that the state can monitor the school, according to House and Cotton.

Cotton said the Department of Education announced recently that Mount Olivet met all of its federal annual measurable objectives (based on student achievement during 2012-13), so “obviously they are making progress.”

Cotton has pointed out that the 2012-13 school year was the second year when new math Standards of Learning tests were given and the first year new reading SOL tests were given, both of which were more rigorous. Cotton and other education officials have said pass rates tend to drop after more rigorous tests are implemented but then improve over time.

Cotton said he expects to see steady improvements in pass rates.

He also pointed out that, using three-year averages, Mount Olivet exceeded the minimum accreditation benchmarks for the other three core subjects. Mount Olivet had a 93 percent pass rate in history, 88 percent pass rate in science and 83 percent pass rate in English, he said. So it had some high pass rates in some subjects, but needs to focus on math, he said.

According to the Department of Education website, elementary and middle schools are fully accredited if students achieve all of the following pass rates: English - 75 percent or higher; mathematics, science and history, each 70 percent or higher. High schools are fully accredited if: students achieve pass rates of 75 percent or higher in English and 70 percent or higher in math, science and history; and attain a point value of 85 or greater based on the Graduation Completion Index (GCI).

According to data about 2012-13 SOL test results provided by the Henry County school division, the division exceeded the state’s passing average on all elementary science, middle science and earth science Virginia SOL tests; exceeded the state’s advanced pass rate on three of the new science tests (earth science, grade 3 science and grade 8 science); exceeded the state passing average on Algebra II tests; and made gains on most math tests: grades 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, and geometry and Algebra II.

Cotton said some schools in the division have done well on math assessments, and the school division will be using teachers who excel at that to provide professional development for other math teachers.

All the schools in the division were fully accredited last year, Cotton said.

 

 
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