Accreditation ratings improve

Published 9:14 am Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Three out of four of Lunenburg County’s public schools received the status of “Fully Accredited” for the 2017-18 school year according to an announcement from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) last Wednesday.

According to VDOE, Kenbridge Elementary School (KES) received the state accreditation status of “To Be Determined” due to not meeting state benchmarks for science on last year’s Standards of Learning (SOL) tests.

Victoria Elementary School (VES), KES and Lunenburg Middle School (LMS) were all denied accreditation the previous year while Central Lunenburg High School (CHS) received the “Fully Accredited” status.

Both federal and VDOE ratings are primarily based on SOL tests administered in the 2016-17 school year.

“For a school to earn full accreditation, students must achieve adjusted pass rates of at least 75 percent in English and at least 70 percent on assessments in mathematics, science and history,” VDOE officials said in a press release. “High schools must also meet a benchmark for graduation and completion. Accreditation ratings may also reflect an average of achievement over several years.”

Lunenburg County Public School (LCPS) Superintendent Charles Berkley said the “To Be Determined” status was given to KES for not meeting state benchmarks required for science SOL tests.

Regarding the improvement of VES and LMS, Berkley said it was the result of tremendous hardwork and diligence of the division’s students and teachers “and the instructional systems, principals, central office staff.”

“I think this was a team effort from everybody in the Lunenburg Public Schools staff,” Berkley said. “We were able to make progress and move closer to achieving full accreditation divisionwide this year.”

Berkley said the division has sent information to the VDOE so it can better make its decision on the accreditation status of KES.

“(KES) showed significant progress in math and reading scores and the only thing that held that school from getting accredited, it dropped in science but that was because we had put so much emphasis toward the math and reading that we kind let ourselves down on the science end,”

Berkley said. “When you look at the three-year average, we were in very good shape, just a point or two from being accredited all the way across at that school.”

He said staff is working in the areas of achievement gaps and attendance.

“The only thing we need to bring up is the science score and we’re working to use some of the same strategies that we have used this past year to make sure we meet everything that we need to be accredited there,” Berkley said. “We have plans in place to make sure we keep accreditation in all four schools.”

“Focus schools must employ state-approved, school-improvement coaches,” state education officials said in a VDOE release. “Focus schools retain their designation for a minimum of two years unless they no longer receive federal Title I funding.”

The VDOE also announced federal designations with accountability requirements focused on schools that receive Title I funding to support services for economically disadvantaged students. According to the VDOE, KES and VES are both focus schools.