Williamsburg-James City County school district fully accredited

Contact Reporterwwright@vagazette.com

The state of Virginia has deemed each of the public elementary, middle and high schools in Williamsburg-James City County School District as fully accredited for the 12th consecutive year.

In determining accreditation for its schools, the department examines what percentage of students passed state Standards of Learning tests in math, history, science and English.

For elementary and middle schools, at least 75 percent of students must pass the English test, then 70 percent on the tests for math, science and history.

High schools must meet the same rates, but they also must end the year with a Graduation Completion Index of more than 85 percent.

The measure details how many students finish high school with a diploma, GED or other means of completion.

Jamestown High finished with a 96 percent. Lafayette and Warhill finished with scores of 94 and 95 percent, respectively.

“There aren‘t too many districts that pull that off from year to year,” said Julie Grimes, a communications manager at the Virginia Department of Education.

Just 13 of the state’s 132 school districts — less than 10 percent — managed to have all their schools fully accredited.

“I am very proud of our students and of the great work of our schools,” said Superintendent Olwen Herron. “While SOL tests are not the only measure of student performance, each year we strive to help our students achieve to their highest potential.”

Statewide, 86 percent of Virginia schools received full accreditation. That’s up from 81 percent last year.

The district’s Standards of Learning scores slipped this past year.

Black students dropped in reading from 82 percent to 80 overall. Proficiency for female students overall dropped from 86 percent to 84 percent. Hispanic students saw history passing rates fall to 76 percent from 80 percent the previous year.

Science test performance declined from 87 percent to 85 percent for all students in the district. Even with the changes, the district finished above state averages.

Assistant Superintendent Scott Thorpe said the district knew that even with what the district saw as underwhelming scores, they were confident the schools were not in danger of losing accreditation.

Thorpe said his focus now is figuring out what the district will change heading into the next round of testing.

“No one believes it’s OK,” Thorpe said. “What we need to do is figure out what to change to help these teachers spend their time more effectively.”

Herron said she took solace in the fact that the district’s schools are recognized as running smoothly.

“Achieving full accreditation is important to our schools and to our community,” Herron said. “As we focus our efforts, we will ensure that all W-JCC students are provided with the support and resources they need to be successful.”

Wright can be reached by phone at 757-345-2343.

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