Two schools miss state accreditation

Published 10:46 pm Friday, September 30, 2011

Two of Suffolk’s public schools fell short of full state accreditation because of sub-par graduation rates.

King’s Fork and Lakeland high schools were granted provisional accreditation because the schools failed to meet a new benchmark based on graduation and completion.

However, the schools did meet all of the academic performance requirements.

Email newsletter signup

Superintendent Deran Whitney said he was “disappointed” to hear the schools missed out on state accreditation.

“Both schools worked very hard,” he said. “I share their disappointment in not meeting the graduation completer index benchmark.”

Aside from Lakeland and King’s Fork, all of the city’s schools were deemed fully accredited by the state for the 2011-2012 school year.

Separate from annual yearly progress, state accreditation for elementary and middle schools is based on pass rates on the Standards of Learning tests.

Until this year, SOL pass rates were the only numbers considered for high school accreditations; however, 2011-2012 accreditation ratings added a graduation and completion index for high schools.

The new benchmark greatly affected the number of high schools that received state accreditation. This year, 86 percent of Virginia’s high schools were fully accredited, compared to 99 percent last year.

“Whenever standards are raised, there are schools that require time to meet the new expectations,” said Patricia I. Wright, the state superintendent of public instruction. “The fact that 86 percent of high schools already meet or exceed the standard for graduation and completion speaks to the efforts of educators and administrators to raise graduation rates.”

In addition to King’s Fork and Lakeland, 28 other high schools were granted provisional accreditation for meeting all of the academic benchmarks but failing to meet the graduation and completion index by five points or less.

To find a school’s graduation and completion index, point values are awarded to each student based how he or she completes high school. For example, if a student receives a board-recognized diploma, 100 points are counted toward the school’s total, but only 75 points are awarded for a GED.

Once every student has a point value, the sum is divided by the total number of students to find the index.

While the state requires an index value of 85 for high schools to earn accreditation, King’s Fork had an 82 and Lakeland got an 83.

In contrast, Nansemond River High School earned full accreditation with a GCI of 92.

To help improve Lakeland and King’s Fork’s numbers, Whitney said, the high schools are going to receive help from the Virginia Department of Education.

“The schools will receive additional assistance from the VDOE,” he said, adding a web seminar is planned for Oct. 6 to explain what kind of support they will receive.

In addition to the state’s help, the schools also have plans of their own, Whitney said.

“Both schools have improvement plans that address improving their graduation rates,” he said.

Whitney said overall, he is pleased to see all of the schools met the state’s academic standards.

“We are very proud of the fact that once again, all schools met the academic benchmarks for full accreditation,” he said. “While we recognize we need to improve the graduation rates our students, teachers and staff should feel proud of meeting the state’s academic benchmarks for full accreditation.”

To view all of the accreditation results for Suffolk Public Schools, visit