Thursday, Jul 24th

Last updateWed, 23 Jul 2014 8am

You are here: Home News Local News Three Halifax County schools fail accreditation

Three Halifax County schools fail accreditation

Three Halifax County Public Schools — Halifax County Middle, Sydnor Jennings and Sinai Elementary — failed to meet the Standards of Learning to earn full accreditation for 2012-2013 due to low scores in mathematics and English.

The results were released Friday by the Virginia Department of Education.

According to the release, 77 percent of Virginia’s 1,828 public schools met all state standards to receive full accreditation in English, mathematics, history and science and graduation in the case of high schools.

Last year, 93 percent of Virginia’s public schools were rated as fully accredited. 

The number of schools accredited with warning this year nearly quadrupled to 395.

“For it to be such a difference between last year and this year’s percentage, something different has changed dramatically statewide,” said Halifax County School Superintendent Dr. Merle Herndon.

Halifax County Middle School earned a 57 percent passing rate in math and 60 percent in English. 

Sydnor Jennings earned a 56 percent passing rate in math and 58 percent in English. 

Sinai Elementary School earned a 52 percent passing rate in math. 

According to Herndon, all schools that do not meet full accreditation will undergo an improvement plan. 

 “The middle school is going to be a real focus for us. We plan to make a lot of changes such as going back to teams, changing scheduling and really focusing on math,” said Herndon. 

Science also proved to be a challenging subject with all of the schools earning passing rates in the 70 percent range. 

Cluster Springs, Meadville Elementary, Scottsburg Elementary and South Boston Elementary earned the highest percent for history, in the 90 percent passing range. 

For a school now to earn full accreditation, at least 75 percent of students must pass reading and writing SOL tests, and at least 70 percent must pass state assessments in mathematics, science and history. High schools must also meet a benchmark for graduation. Previously, the reading and writing benchmark in middle and high schools was 70 percent, and the required pass rate in grade-3 science and history was 50 percent.

 “Over the last five years, the accreditation bar has been raised through the introduction of more rigorous curriculum standards and challenging new assessments that test students’ problem-solving and critical-thinking skills as well as their content knowledge,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright said. “In addition, the benchmark pass rates required for full accreditation have increased, and high schools must meet goals for improving graduation rates.”

The impact of the challenging mathematics tests introduced two years ago grew as three-year averaging provided less mitigation in the calculation of accreditation ratings. 

Only 257 fully accredited schools were able to meet the mathematics benchmark based on achievement over three years, compared with 750 last year. Of the 395 warned schools, 349 are warned in mathematics and 224 are warned in math alone.

The new reading and writing SOL tests were a factor for 146 schools warned in English; 32 of these are accredited with warning for 2013-2014 solely because of English. Another 495 schools relied on three-year averaging to reach the benchmark for English and achieve full accreditation. 

Herndon said, “There is a number of reasons that could have contributed to lower test scores. We hope that with some changes including practicing technology enhanced practice questions, we will have better scores next year.”