Most schools accredited

Published 12:11 am Saturday, August 18, 2018

With a changing accreditation system taking effect for the upcoming school year, all but two Suffolk Public Schools are considered fully accredited by the Virginia Department of Education.

Mack Benn Jr. and Booker T. Washington elementary schools will be accredited with conditions. The conditions of accreditation mean the school has to follow certain improvement guidelines to maintain that accreditation status.

Teachers, staff and the School Board were made aware of the information during their vision planning meeting on Thursday.

Email newsletter signup

The new accreditation standards value more than just standardized testing, focusing also on student engagement, dropout rate, achievement gaps and the achievement of all students.

Multiple categories, or quality indicators, will be ranked with three levels, with one being the best and three denoting improvement needed.

When a school maintains level one and level two in all categories, it is considered to be fully accredited, but once it has a level three, the conditions will be added. However, the state education department does not see improvement within level two and level three categories, there is a chance a school’s accreditation can be denied.

“This is a much more comprehensive way to look at schools,” Assistant Superintendent Dr. LaToya Harrison said. “They aren’t evaluated on just one thing, because an effective school is more than just a pass rate.”

Specific levels for Suffolk’s schools are not publicly available at this time, and they won’t be available until the end of September when the VDOE releases the information, according to spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw.

Having mostly fully accredited schools was a source of joy not just for School Board members but also for administrative staff.

“We went through a journey through the years,” said Director of Secondary Leadership Dr. Stenette Byrd. “All the secondary schools are fully accredited.”

Prior to the new standards, both King’s Fork and John F. Kennedy middle schools were partially accredited and denied accreditation, respectively.

“We are making progress, and we are very proud to say that,” said the Director of Elementary Leadership Pamela Connor.

Prior to the new standards, both Mack Benn Jr. and Booker T. Washington elementary schools were denied accreditation, and Elephant’s Fork was only partially accredited.