Bessie Weller Elementary School earns accreditation
Bessie Weller Elementary School in Staunton is now accredited after being denied accreditation by the VDOE for three consecutive years and classified as a focus school for six years by the U.S. Department of Education.
A focus school has one or more proficiency gap groups not meeting performance expectations in reading and mathematics.
Bessie Weller is accredited with no federal designations and has exceeded state benchmarks in every category.
“We are beyond excited to make accreditation. There are good things happening at Bessie Weller, and we always knew our students were learning and growing. Making accreditation validates the hard work of our teachers and students, as well as the support of our parents, school board office, and community,” said Rich Fletcher, principal of Bessie Weller.
Three other Staunton schools have maintained accreditation, including A.R. Ware Elementary, T.C. McSwain Elementary and R.E. Lee High schools. Shelburne Middle School is accredited with conditions.
“We are pleased with the significant gains that are evident at each of the Staunton City Schools,” said Dr. Garett Smith, superintendent of Staunton City Schools. “We appreciate the support of the community and celebrate our successes with them.”
Smith said news of Shelburne’s accreditation status this year was unexpected, given the significant strides students made over the last year and a preliminary report from the VDOE in January that provided guidance to school divisions on how to calculate accreditation.
“We were surprised to find out that we missed the mark in one area – mathematics for students with disabilities. Despite a substantial increase in the overall rate over the previous year in this category – 12 percent – growth was not factored into the calculation,” Smith said.
“However, we are well on our way at Shelburne. We’re proud of our instructors and the tremendous growth our students have made. School improvement is a continuous process, and we believe that school improvement happens within the classroom.”