RICHMOND (AP) --Virginia Dept. of Education officials say 93 percent of Virginia's public schools are fully accredited after meeting state benchmarks.

All but 122 of the state's 1,836 schools met objectives on 2011-12 Standards of Learning tests and other assessments in English, mathematics, science and history -- and, for high schools, graduation. That's down from 96 percent last year.

Officials say that, as predicted, the decrease is in part due to more rigorous mathematics tests introduced during the last school year.

Among Virginia's high schools, 90 percent meet full accreditation standards, up from 86 percent last year when the state first included high school graduation and completion among its accountability measures. Eighty-eight percent of middle schools and 96 percent of elementary schools also are fully accredited.

For full accreditation, 70 percent of students in each middle- and high school must pass all four Standards of Learning subject areas. High schools also get judged on graduation rates.

When schools lose state approval, they're required to make an improvement plan.

The state can not shut down a failing school, but school boards can close bad schools, bring in charter schools or make other moves.

In Virginia Beach, 79 out of 81 schools gained accreditation. Bayside Middle School missed full accreditation for a second year.

In Norfolk, 31 of 45 schools earned full accreditation.

Of the 14 schools that are not fully accredited in Norfolk for 2012-2013, half missed the mark only because of mathematics, school official. Azalea Gardens, Lafayette-Winona, Lake Taylor and Norview middle schools fell short of the required 70 percent pass rate in math, as did Campostella, Lindenwood and James Monroe elementary schools.

Christine Fox says she has five kids ready to attend Lafayette-Winona and was hoping for better news.

'This is horrible. They need to do something,' she stated.

The school has added additional teachers and a new principal. It's showing some progress. Scores improved in English, History and Science. However, 50 percent of students passed math.

'Lafayette-Winona had huge gains and would have been fully accredited except for math, which was a struggle for many schools. The staff and students worked very hard and were well above state benchmarks in every tested area except math,' Norfolk Schools spokeswoman Elizabeth Mather noted.

Chesapeake-100 percent
Gloucester-100 percent
Isle of Wight Co. 100 percent
Williamsburg-James City Co.-100 percent
York Co.-100 percent
Virginia Beach-98 percent
Suffolk-89.5 percent
Hampton-79 percent
Newport News-78 percent
Portsmouth-78 percent
Norfolk-69 percent

If you would like to see individual ratings for each local school, click here.

AP-WF-09-26-12 0704GMT

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