RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The number of Virginia public schools that have earned full accreditation has increased for the first time in five years, Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s administration said Tuesday.
More than 1,400, or 80 percent of all schools, are fully accredited for the 2015-2016 school year after meeting state benchmarks, Virginia’s Department of Education said. That’s up from nearly 1,250 schools, or 68 percent, last year.
To earn full accreditation, at least 75 percent of students must pass the Standard of Learning tests in English reading and writing and at least 70 percent must pass the math, science and history assessments. High schools must also meet certain graduation rate benchmarks.
Officials attributed the increase in part to a new policy allowing students in third through eighth grade to retake the Standard of Learning tests in reading, math, science and history.
“Strategies like allowing expedited Standards of Learning retakes are helping more students and schools reach for success by measuring student achievement without pinning their futures on just one high stakes test,” McAuliffe said in a statement.
Thirteen schools were denied accreditation because of persistently low student achievement. Nearly 340 schools received some level of partial accreditation.
The State Board of Education approved new ratings this year to differentiate schools that are close to meeting the requirements for full accreditation, or that are making significant progress, from those that are not. The requirements for full accreditation did not change.
The percentage of Virginia schools with full accreditation declined significantly after the state began in 2011 to implement new math, English and science tests aimed at better preparing students for college or post-graduation employment.
Schools that are denied accreditation have to implement corrective action plans crafted by the Board of Education.
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