- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 17, 2009

RICHMOND | Ninety-eight percent of the state’s public schools are fully accredited, the highest percentage since statewide testing in English, math, history and science began 10 years ago, the Virginia Department of Education said Wednesday.

Students at all but 41 of the state’s 1,867 schools met or exceeded state objectives on Standards of Learning (SOL) tests and other statewide assessments in the four core academic areas.

“Virginia’s public schools have accomplished what many 10 years ago thought was impossible,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright said in a news release. “With the sustained support of governors, legislators and policymakers from both parties, teachers and other educators have met the challenge of higher standards and students are achieving at significantly higher levels in nearly every school.”

Ninety-six percent of Virginia’s 312 middle schools are now fully accredited, up from 87 percent last year, officials said. Seventeen schools were accredited with warning, down from 54 last year, and 48 schools that were on warning last year received full accreditation.

Fourteen new schools were automatically classified as conditionally accredited for 2008-09. Six schools earned full accreditation after undergoing reconstitution and being conditionally accredited for one or more years. The ratings of four schools seeking conditional accreditation will be determined by the Board of Education during a meeting Thursday.

Three Petersburg schools - J.E.B. Stuart Elementary, Peabody Middle and Vernon Johns Junior High - were denied accreditation. Ellen W. Chambliss Elementary in Sussex County also was denied accreditation after not meeting state standards.

The status of A.P. Hill Elementary in Petersburg, which was the subject of a department investigation of assessment irregularities, will be determined by the board Thursday.

Officials said the board would determine the status of William Fleming High School in Roanoke, which also was the subject of an investigation of testing practices, at its October meeting.

In middle and high schools, 70 percent of students must pass in all four SOL subject areas to be fully accredited. In elementary school, 75 percent must pass English tests in the third through fifth grades. Also for elementary schools, 70 percent must pass math and fifth-grade science and history, and 50 percent must pass third-grade science and third-grade history.

Adjustments also can be made for English learners and for students who recently have transferred into a state public school.

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