15 city public schools fully accredited, 4 accredited with conditions

Published 6:45 pm Tuesday, September 27, 2022

All public schools in Suffolk received state accreditation for the 2022-2023 school year, though four were accredited with conditions.

Booker T. Washington, Elephant’s Fork and Mack Benn Jr. elementary schools, and John F. Kennedy Middle School, were accredited with conditions, meaning one or more school quality indicators are at Level 3, which is considered below state standard. The division’s other 15 schools are fully accredited. Turlington Woods School and the College and Career Academy at Pruden are not rated for accreditation purposes.

Booker T. Washington, Elephant’s Fork and Mack Benn Jr. were three of the 235 schools statewide to be rated at Level 3 for science Standards of Learning test pass rates. The science SOL pass rate at Booker T. Washington was 34%, though it rated at Level 1 for English and math. Elephant’s Fork and Mack Benn Jr. were rated the same way. Elephant’s Fork’s science SOL pass rate was 41% while Mack Benn Jr.’s science pass rate was 20%.

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Elephant’s Fork, Booker T. Washington and Mack Benn Jr. were rated at Level 3 for achievement gaps in math for students with disabilities.

In other subgroups of student population, Elephant’s Fork was rated at Level 1 for achievement gaps in math and science, except in math for students with disabilities, in which it rated Level 2.

In subgroups for which it had students, Booker T. Washington was rated at Level 1 for achievement gaps in math and science.

At Mack Benn Jr., it rated at Level 1 in all subgroups of students for achievement gaps in math and science except for students with disabilities, in which it rated at Level 3.

John F. Kennedy was rated at Level 3 in both English and science, and Level 1 in math. The English combined SOL pass rate was 73%, while the science SOL pass rate was 49%. It was also rated at Level 3 for achievement gaps in math and science for students with disabilities.

A Level 1 rating means a school meets or exceeds the state standard, or there was sufficient improvement. A Level 2 rating means a school is near the state standard, or there was sufficient improvement.

All schools are required to develop a multi-year plan for continuous improvement for all school quality indicators. For indicators rated at Level 3, the “school undergoes a review conducted by (the Virginia Department of Education) or under its guidance.” The school and school division, in consultation with the state department of education, is to develop and put in place a corrective action plan as a component of the school’s “comprehensive, unified, long-range plan.”

Accreditation was waived for the 2020-2021 and the 2021-2022 school years during the COVID-19 pandemic.

All schools in SPS were fully accredited for the 2019-2020 school year.

The last school year in which all SPS schools were not fully accredited was the 2018-2019 school year. That year, only Mack Benn Jr. was not fully accredited.

Statewide, 89% of public schools were fully accredited this year, down from 92% in the 2019-2020 school year, with 10% of schools were accredited with conditions, up from 7% over the same timeframe.

Schools are evaluated in three categories — academic achievement, achievement gaps and student engagement and outcomes. Academic achievement is measured in English, math and science, while achievement gaps are measured in English and math and student engagement and outcomes factor in chronic absenteeism.

State officials were critical of the accreditation measures, with Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin calling it a “broken accountability system (that) fails to provide a clear picture of the academic achievement and progress of our schools to parents, teachers and local school divisions.”

He said it does not adequately measure “catastrophic learning loss and growing achievement gaps” among the state’s students.

But James Fedderman, president of the Virginia Education Association, criticized Youngkin for what he described as efforts to “politicize” and “discredit” schools to advance his agenda, according to a story reported by Nathaniel Cline for Virginia Mercury. Fedderman said Virginia’s accreditation system is working and accurately represents “one of the top public education systems in the nation.”

 

“These results do show that more of our students are in need of additional assistance to reach their potential, and we urge the governor to direct the state board of education and General Assembly to direct their energies into solving these problems, not creating a new evaluation system that rubber stamps his partisan political aims,” Fedderman told Virginia Mercury.