Accomack, Northampton County schools struggling with state accreditation

(Delmarvanow.com) -- With 86 percent of Virginia public schools fully accredited by the Virginia Department of Education for the 2017-2018 school year, select schools on the Eastern Shore continue to struggle.

Accomack County Public Schools' Metompkin Elementary School did not receive 2017-2018 state accreditation due to persistently low student achievement. The school continues to be listed as a priority school for federal accountability since the summer of 2016, said Charles Pyle, Virginia department's director of communications.

"There are still interventions in place," he said.

Metompkin Elementary is designated as a federal accountability priority school due to its Standards of Learning testing achievement in 2016-2017.

The federal accountability focuses on Title I funded schools "to support services for economically disadvantaged students," according to a press release. The lowest performing schools receive either priority or focus school identification.

As a priority school, Metompkin Elementary "must design and implement school-reform models that meet state and federal requirements."

Schools receive full accreditation after students achieve adjusted pass rates of at least 75 percent in English and 70 percent on mathematics, science and history state assessments. A graduation and completion benchmark must be met for high schools. The accreditation ratings can also reflect an achievement average across several years, according to a press release.  

Arcadia Middle School in Accomack County and Northampton County Public Schools' Occohannock Elementary School both received state accreditation after being denied in 2016-2017.

Arcadia Middle is one of 13 schools to receive accreditation back for 2017-2018 after successfully raising student achievement. Pyle explained the 13 schools didn't meet the testing benchmark for four years and didn't appeal to the Board of Education for reconstitution causing a loss in accreditation.

However, Arcadia Middle's 2016 test scores showed an increase in improvement. According to VDOE's School Quality Profiles, the school scored 75 percent in English, 76 percent in math, 92 percent in history and 70 percent in science.

The school's biggest challenge was English with all other testing subjects meeting the accreditation benchmark in previous years.

Occohannock Elementary is one of 28 schools to receive accreditation due to reconstitution.

"Reconstitution involves significant changes in school leadership, governance, faculty or instruction," according to a press release. "Reconstitution plans must be approved by the state Board of Education." 

Pyle explained the elementary school was able to persuade the Board of Education they were working toward improvement through reconstitution to receive partial accreditation. This year, they met the testing benchmark causing the award to full accreditation.

Occohannock has a similar trend in its test scores to Arcadia Middle.

"The issue for the school had been English," Pyle said.

According to Occohannock's School Quality Profile, students scored 82 percent in English, 79 percent in math, 89 percent in history and 77 percent in science.

“I congratulate the teachers, principals, support staff and other educators in these schools for their hard work and dedication to helping students meet the commonwealth’s high expectations for learning and achievement,” said Steven R. Staples, Superintendent of Public Instruction, in a press release.

“I also want to thank and encourage educators in schools that are making progress as they move closer to achieving full accreditation. As we begin the transition to a new accountability system that recognizes growth and includes important outcomes such as achievement gaps and dropout rates, a commitment to continued improvement in all schools will be vital to our success.”

Beginning next year, Pyle said the accreditation process will change. VDOE will begin to look at schools' overall growth performance and achievement gaps, helping the department provide more focused interventions, he said.

Intervention for priority and focus schools will be a similar concept to the current protocol, but given different names: intervening and identifying.

VDOE submitted its plan to follow the Every Student Succeeds Act on Sept. 18 and is waiting on finalization, Pyle said. 

© Gannett Co., Inc. 2017. All Rights Reserved


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