Governor McAuliffe announces 10-point increase in fully accredited schools

Governor Terry McAuliffe announced this week a significant increase in the number of Virginia schools earning accreditation in 2015. The increase is the first since 2010 when the state Board of Education took the first in a series of actions to set higher benchmarks for schools, while introducing more challenging academic standards and assessments for students.

“Offering every Virginia student a world class education in a public school is at the very foundation of our efforts to build a new Virginia economy,” said Governor McAuliffe. “This year’s strong progress is a reflection of the dedicated work of educators, parents and communities and a clear sign that the reforms we have put into place are working. Strategies like allowing expedited Standards of Learning (SOL) retakes are helping more students and schools reach for success by measuring student achievement without pinning their futures on just one high stakes test. I look forward to working with the General Assembly this year to build on this momentum by enhancing our investment in K-12 education and further reforming the SOL’s.”

Seventy-eight percent, or 1,414, of Virginia’s 1,823 public schools are rated as Fully Accredited for the 2015-2016 school year, based on the performance of students on Standards of Learning (SOL) tests in English, mathematics, science and history during 2014-2015. This represents a 10-point improvement over 2014-2015, when only 68 percent of schools were fully accredited.

“Getting challenged schools the resources they need to ensure student success is one of the most important steps we can take to improve our Commonwealth’s education system,” said Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton. “Every school that earned full accreditation this year is another school that is better preparing its students for a lifetime of success. As another legislative session nears, we are hard at work identifying investment opportunities and smart policy changes that will make Virginia the best state in the nation for students of all walks of life to achieve.”

The 2014-2015 school year was the first during which students in grades 3-8 were allowed to retake SOL tests in reading, mathematics, science and history. On average, the performance of students on expedited retakes increased pass rates by about four points on each test.

The 2015 General Assembly also directed the Board of Education to revise the commonwealth’s accountability program to recognize schools close to full accreditation or making acceptable progress. On October 22, the board approved benchmarks for a series of “Partially Accredited” ratings that replace “Accredited with Warning” and other ratings under the old system.

“While there have been changes in the state accountability program this year to recognize schools that are making progress, the benchmarks schools must meet to earn full accreditation have not been lowered,” Board of Education President Billy K. Cannaday Jr. said.

For a school to earn full accreditation, students must achieve adjusted pass rates of at least 75 percent on English reading and writing SOL tests, and of at least 70 percent on assessments in mathematics, science and history. High schools must also meet a benchmark for graduation and completion. Accreditation ratings may also reflect an average of achievement over several years.

“The new ratings allow the state to be more precise in supporting schools,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples said. “We are now able to differentiate schools that likely can make it doing what they are already doing from schools that clearly require more support from the state.”

Of the 541 schools Accredited with Warning during 2014-2015, 200 are now Fully Accredited, 102 earned Partially Accredited: Approaching Benchmark or Partially Accredited: Improving School ratings for 2015-2016, 186 are rated as Partially Accredited: Warned School, 40 are asking the state board for Partially Accredited: Reconstituted School status, 10 have been closed by local school boards, and three schools on last year’s warning list have been denied accreditation for 2015-2016.


2015-2016 Accreditation Ratings
Accreditation Rating Number of Schools Percent of All Schools
Fully Accredited 1,414 78
Partially Accredited: Approaching Benchmark-Pass Rate 46 3
Partially Accredited: Approaching Benchmark-GCI 1 <1
Partially Accredited: Improving School-Pass Rate 76 4
Partially Accredited: Improving School-GCI 0 0
Partially Accredited: Warned School-Pass Rate 215 12
Partially Accredited: Warned School-GCI 0 0
Partially Accredited: Reconstituted School 0 0
Accreditation Denied 13 <1
Conditionally Accredited (New Schools) 9 <1
To Be Determined 49 3
Total Schools 1,823 100


Thirteen schools in seven divisions are denied state accreditation for 2015-2016 because of persistently low student achievement:

  • Alexandria — Jefferson-Houston Elementary for a fourth consecutive year
  • Henrico County — L. Douglas Wilder Middle for a second consecutive year
  • Newport News — Mary Passage Middle for the first year, Newsome Park Elementary for a second consecutive year and Sedgefield Elementary for a second consecutive year
  • Norfolk — Campostella Elementary for a second consecutive year, Lake Taylor Middle for a second consecutive year,  Lindenwood Elementary for a third consecutive year and  William H. Ruffner Middle for a fourth consecutive year
  • Northampton County — Kiptopeke Elementary for a second consecutive year
  • Petersburg — Peabody Middle for a tenth consecutive year
  • Richmond — Amelia Street Special Education Center for the first year and Richmond Alternative for the first year

Schools denied accreditation are subject to corrective actions prescribed by the state Board of Education and affirmed through a memorandum of understanding with the local school board.

The status of 49 schools at risk of being denied accreditation — including 40 schools that were Accredited with Warning in 2014-2015 — will be determined by the Board of Education later this year. Under Virginia’s revised accountability regulations, a school that has not earned full accreditation for three consecutive years — and fails to meet state standards for a fourth consecutive year — can apply for a rating of Partially Accredited: Reconstituted School if the local school board agrees to reconstitute the school’s leadership, staff, governance or student population. A reconstituted school can retain this rating for up to three years if it is making acceptable progress.

Nine newly opened schools are automatically rated as Conditionally Accredited for 2015-2016.

All schools are fully accredited in 37 of the commonwealth’s 132 school divisions, compared with 36 divisions last year. The divisions with all schools fully accredited (other than new schools that automatically receive conditional accreditation) are as follows:

  • Appomattox County
  • Arlington County
  • Charlottesville
  • Colonial Beach
  • Colonial Heights
  • Craig County
  • Falls Church
  • Floyd County
  • Fluvanna County
  • Franklin County
  • Fredericksburg
  • Galax
  • Gloucester County
  • Goochland County
  • Hanover County
  • King William County
  • King and Queen County
  • Lexington
  • Mathews County
  • Middlesex County
  • New Kent County
  • Norton
  • Orange County
  • Poquoson
  • Powhatan County
  • Radford
  • Rappahannock County
  • Richmond County
  • Roanoke County
  • Salem
  • Scott County
  • Stafford County
  • Tazewell County
  • West Point
  • Williamsburg-James City County
  • Wise County
  • York County

Accreditation ratings for 2015-2016 for all schools and updated online report cards for all schools and school divisions are available on the VDOE website.

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