Accreditation rankings pending for five schools; Three area high schools fully accredited

Published 9:16 pm Wednesday, September 14, 2016

In Buckingham, Cumberland and Prince Edward counties, five schools have pending accreditation rankings, according to data released Wednesday morning by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).

The rankings are based on performance on English, math, history and science Standards of Learning (SOL) tests during the 2015-16 school year. Only the high schools in the three counties performed high enough to receive full accreditation.

Of the remaining schools, Prince Edward and Buckingham middle schools received partial accreditation and warned school pass rates, meaning those schools are not within a narrow margin of, nor are making acceptable progress toward SOL pass rate benchmarks.

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According to VDOE, in order for a school to receive full accreditation, elementary and middle school students must achieve 75 percent or higher pass rates in English; and 70 percent or higher in mathematics, history and science. High school students must meet the same subject benchmarks and also attain a point value of 85 or greater according the Graduation and Completion Index (GCI).

A “To Be Determined” (TBD) status indicates a school is in its fourth consecutive year of not meeting accreditation standards and has applied to be placed into “reconstituted-partially accredited” status rather than being denied accreditation. These schools must submit an application to VDOE showing SOL improvement and their goals and actions to continue progress to become fully accredited. According to VDOE, 145 schools across the commonwealth fall into this category for the 2016-17 school year. Cumberland Superintendent Amy Griffin said she believes a decision will be finalized for those schools following VDOE’s Oct. 27 meeting.


Buckingham High School met all benchmarks in English, math, history and science. These scores qualified the school for “full accreditation” status. The primary, elementary and middle schools met all benchmarks except for English, according to VDOE. Both the primary and elementary schools fell short by 11 points with a 64 percent pass rate. Buckingham middle school attained a 67 percent pass rate — 8 points below the benchmark.

Superintendent Dr. Cecil Snead said the school system is continuously reviewing testing data and was not surprised by the results released by VDOE. 

In the county, both the elementary school and primary schools’ accreditations are listed as “TBD,” while the middle school remains partially accredited with a warned school-pass rate.


Though Cumberland’s elementary school’s ranking is currently TBD, the school did see achievement this past year, and is no longer placed in a “Focus School” status, according to Griffin. The school met all federal benchmarks, she said, adding the school significantly improved in both reading and math. Exiting Focus School status means the school no longer has to employ a state-approved coach to monitor and improve testing results in the school’s at-risk student population, according to VDOE.

The middle school met benchmarks in history and science, but fell short in English and math. In English, the school holds a 71 percent pass rate, listed as “Improving.” In math, the school is considered “approaching,” with a score of 68.

Griffin said, overall, she is pleased with the academic growth in SOL scores across the division from last year. She expressed confidence in VDOE deeming Cumberland County elementary and middle schools as “Partially Accredited.”

“While I continuously reiterate that (SOL) test scores are only one measure of the success of a school division and school, I am proud that the commitment and persistence of our students, faculty and staff, parents, and community have resulted in improvement as measured by the (VDOE),” Griffin said.

Prince Edward

Prince Edward County High School performed at the required benchmarks, qualifying the school for full accreditation.

Meanwhile, the county’s middle school is partially accredited with a warned pass rate for the second year in a row. Superintendent Dr. Barbara Johnson said this is because of reading scores. Though the scores did increase to 67 percent, two points higher than the prior year, they are still below the required 75 percent.

“Just two years ago, the middle school was Accredited with Warning in reading and math,” Johnson said. “This year’s scores show that the school met the math benchmark for the second consecutive year.”

The middle school received a 70 percent pass rate in math.

The elementary school’s status is TBD, according to VDOE. The school met the benchmark for math, and increased by three percentage points in reading, according to Johnson.    

Johnson said the division is proud of the hard work put forth by teachers and building administrators to improving student learning. However, she said, the division realizes there is still work to be done.

“We are committed to improving student achievement throughout the division and will continue to evaluate all aspects of our instructional program to ensure the success of all of our students,” Johnson said.

According to VDOE, more than 80 percent of  Virginia’s 1,482 public schools are fully accredited for the 2016-2017 school year. This is a 3-point improvement from scores earned during the 2015-2016 school year.

Seven schools earned full accreditation after undergoing reconstitution last year, VDOE said, where there are “significant changes in school leadership, governance, faculty or attendance.” Reconstitution status must be approved by the state Board of Education.

The five area schools pending accreditation will enter into reconstitution status if their applications are approved by VDOE in coming months.