State partially accredits remaining Newport News, Hampton schools

The state Board of Education partially accredited 12 schools in Newport News and Hampton during its meeting Thursday morning.

The schools are Bassette, Kraft and Cary elementary schools and Lindsay Middle School in Hampton; and Epes, Saunders, Palmer, Lee Hall, Newsome Park and Sedgefield elementary schools and Hines and Passage middle schools in Newport News.

These schools could have been denied accreditation, based on Standards of Learning scores over the past several years, but appealed to be approved as partially accredited: reconstituted schools instead.

Reconstitution entails taking actions to improve student performance, which can include restructuring the school’s administration or staff and changes to instruction.

These schools fell outside of a rubric that showed what essentially would mean an automatic recommendation for reconstitution. That rubric lays out progress a school must make in SOL subject areas to fall into the category, such as making a two-point gain in English performance if the previous year’s scores were between 70 and 73. The benchmark for full accreditation is a score of 75 percent or higher.

Four Hampton schools that fell within the guidelines of the rubric — Syms and Davis middle schools and Smith and Machen elementary schools — were approved for reconstitution during the board’s meeting last month.

Board member James Dillard objected to such a large swath of schools that did not fall into the rubric being approved for partial accreditation, saying that he disagreed with the argument that having their accreditation instead denied would harm then more than help.

“The board felt that it would somehow harm these schools … to be categorized as not accredited,” Dillard said before the vote. “My feeling is just the opposite. It does categorize them, but it puts pressure on them, in my opinion, to actually do what is necessary to show compelling evidence that they should be granted an appeal.

“It seems to me that the pressure to move to an accredited situation, or at least reconstituted situation, category, is important for both the locality and for the General Assembly.”

With Thursday’s vote, all schools in the Peninsula area have received their accreditation rating for the 2017-18 school year. One in Hampton and five in Newport News had their accreditation denied; one in Newport News is partially accredited: approaching benchmark; one in Newport News is partially accredited: improving school; one in Hampton and two in Newport News are partially accredited: warned schools; eight in Hampton and eight in Newport News are reconstituted; and the remaining are fully accredited.

Hammond can be reached by phone at 757-247-4951 or on Twitter @byjanehammond.

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