SOL scores fall short for two county schools

WOODSTOCK – Early tallies show two Shenandoah County public schools will miss full accreditation for the 2017-2018 year, prompting the division to take remedial action.

North Fork Middle School and W.W. Robinson Elementary School could receive a rating of Accreditation Denied under the Virginia Department of Education’s system based on preliminary Standards of Learning test results, according to information from the county division. This marks the fourth year that neither school reached full accreditation.

The School Board voted at its meeting Thursday to approve proposed plans for “reconstituting” North Fork and Robinson in an effort to improve pass rates on Standards of Learning tests.

A school board can choose to reconstitute a school and apply to the Virginia Board of Education for a rating of partially accredited: reconstituted school. The division must create an improvement plan that lists changes in various areas such as governance, staff and instructional program.

Superintendent Mark Johnston stated in an email that the School Board and division officials have discussed accreditation during the past year and the implications for schools not fully accredited for four or more years. Johnston noted that the process remains in flux and Virginia’s accreditation continues to change. The division does not have final numbers and officials expect changes, Johnston stated. The division must apply for reconstitution by Tuesday, Johnston added.

The Department of Education requires divisions to enter into a memorandum of understanding for schools that fail to qualify for reconstitution. The two designations differ mainly in format and structure, Johnston stated.

The school division built several items into the fiscal 2018 budget to address the possible needs stemming from a reconstitution, Johnston explained. Items include the addition of an English language arts curriculum specialist, he added.

State Standards of Accreditation define reconstitution as the process used to “initiate a range of accountability actions to improve pupil performance, curriculum, and instruction to address deficiencies that caused a school to be rated Accreditation Denied. Actions may include, but not be limited to, restructuring a school’s governance, instructional program, staff or student population.”

Preliminary scores also show that Signal Knob Middle School should attain full accreditation for 2017-2018 after three years of receiving the accreditation with warning status.

Early figures show  W.W. Robinson reached pass rates in English of 61 percent, 68 percent and 68 percent for each of the years from 2014-2015, 2015-2016 and 2016-2017, respectively. Preliminary numbers for 2017-2018 show the pass rate dropped to 62 percent.

Early figures for passing rates in math show a drop from 67 percent in 2016-2017 to 60 percent in 2017-2018. Data shows the pass rate in science dropped from 70 percent to 51 percent. The pass rate in history increased from 66 percent to 75 percent.

Robinson has a population of 1,089 pupils, 56 percent of which qualify for free or reduced lunch. Of the population, 187 are English Language Learners and 143 pupils have disabilities.

Changes proposed under the reconstitution for Robinson include professional development for staff and the extension in the length of the instructional day.

Early figures show North Fork Middle School pass rates for English increased from 66 in 2016-2017 to 67 percent for 2017-2018. Pass rates for math dipped from 81 percent to 78 percent. Science pass rates increased from 74 percent to 76 percent. Pass rates in history increased from 77 percent to 78 percent.

North Fork has a population 341, 47.2 percent of which qualify for free or reduce lunch. The population includes 33 English Language Learners and 55 students with disabilities.

The proposed changes and areas for reconstitution at North Fork include a requirement that English teachers participate in the Shenandoah Valley Writing Project. Staff changes include the hiring of two new English teachers for grade 7.