Four more schools miss accreditation mark

Published 11:09 pm Thursday, September 11, 2014

Another four Suffolk public schools will miss full accreditation this year, bringing the total number to 10, according to a preliminary report to the School Board on Thursday.

Previously fully accredited schools set to lose the distinction are Nansemond Parkway and Hillpoint elementary schools as well as Forest Glen and John F. Kennedy middle schools. All are expected to be warned in English, Deputy Superintendent Jacqueline Chavis said.

They will join Lakeland and King’s Fork high schools, King’s Fork Middle School and Booker T. Washington, Elephant’s Fork and Mack Benn Jr. elementary schools — all accredited with warning — making more than half of Suffolk’s 19 public schools lacking full state accreditation.

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“Obviously, having more schools accredited with warning isn’t a good thing, and certainly isn’t something I’m proud of or pleased with,” Superintendent Deran Whitney said. “But what I am pleased with is seeing growth in areas we concentrated on — particularly math.”

Chavis said the greatest overall gains on Standards of Learning pass rates — which for Suffolk Public Schools are the primary factor in whether or not schools are accredited — were seen in high schools. Reading and writing are where improvement is most needed, she added.

Chavis explained how district officials intend to improve student instruction, outlining strategies including updating content-area improvement plans, analyzing student performance question-by-question and increasing monitoring of teachers to ensure they are focused on remediation.

“We start looking at specifics as it relates to each school … then as it relates to each teacher and each student,” Chavis said.

Principals in schools that have seen the most growth will be consulted so that successful methods can be shared throughout the district, according to Chavis.

But a state consultant that had been working with the district to help align instruction with the curriculum has been discontinued due to a statewide increase in schools accredited with warning, she said, adding that educators will still be able to use the training they have received.

Board Chairman Michael Debranski requested that each school expected to miss full accreditation, plus the division, report to the School Board in the next couple of months on how it intends to improve instruction.

“I can’t say that I’m pleased with where we are,” Debranski said. “I certainly hope we improve each year.”