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Posted Set 13, 2014 at 6:45 PM UPdated Sep 13, 2017 at 6:45PM

2 in Petersburg, 1 in Hopewell receive denials this year

PETERSBURG — The number of fully accredited schools in the Tri-Cities has increased for the second year in a row, but the number that were denied accreditation also rose slightly, according to a report released Wednesday by the Virginia Department of Education.

A total of 81 out of the 92 schools in the region are rated fully accredited this year, based on students’ performance on Standards of Learning tests taken during the 2016-17 school year. Last year, 78 schools achieved fully accredited ratings.

At the other end of the scale, three schools — Harry E. James Elementary in Hopewell and J.E.B. Stuart Elementary and Vernon Johns Middle in Petersburg — received ratings of accreditation denied. This is the 12th year in a row that Vernon Johns has been denied accreditation.

Two school systems — Colonial Heights and Dinwiddie County — were among 65 statewide that received full accreditation for all of their schools. Two others — Chesterfield County and Prince George County — missed that mark by just one school. In Chesterfield, Falling Creek Middle is awaiting final determination of its rating, while in Prince George, N.B. Clements Junior High is rated partially accredited for approaching the state benchmark for pass rates.

Three schools in the region that were denied accreditation last year received full accreditation this year: Ettrick Elementary in Chesterfield, Dinwiddie County Middle in Dinwiddie and Patrick Copeland Elementary in Hopewell.

“We’re excited to see that the additional supports we put into place at Ettrick Elementary resulted in strong academic gains and full accreditation for the first time in five years,” said Matoaca District School Board representative Rob Thompson in a press release. “The supports put in place to support Ettrick students and staff members will prove to be a model for differentiating resources.”

“We celebrate the continued growth we see at our schools in terms of student achievement and Standards of Learning pass rates, and we remain committed to achieving 100 percent full accreditation,” said Chesterfield School Board Chairman Javaid Siddiqi. “While we expect our schools to be more and to provide innovative and relevant learning experiences that move beyond teaching to a test, we appreciate all of the blood, sweat and tears that went into returning closer to 100 percent full accreditation.”

According to the Department of Education, 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. High schools must also meet a benchmark for graduation and completion. Accreditation ratings may also reflect an average of achievement over several years.

Statewide, 1,573, or 86 percent, of Virginia’s 1,823 public schools are rated fully accredited for this school year, based on the performance of students on Standards of Learning and other state-approved assessments in English, mathematics, science and history during 2016-2017. This represents a five-point improvement over last year, when 81 percent of schools earned the state’s top accountability rating.

“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 Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples 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.”