Cumberland schools excel, Buckingham improves in accreditation report

Published 2:27 am Tuesday, September 27, 2022

DILLWYN – The numbers look good for schools in both Cumberland and Buckingham counties. This year’s accreditation ratings were released Thursday, Sept. 22, showing significant improvements in both school districts. All Cumberland schools were fully accredited, while several in Buckingham did improve, but fell just short of the state benchmark in some cases. 

The Virginia Department of Education decides if an individual school is accredited, or meets state standards, based on six categories. The state looks at a school’s English pass rate, English achievement gaps, math pass rate, math achievement gaps, science pass rate and if there is chronic absenteeism. If a school doesn’t meet state standards for multiple years, then the Department of Education steps in to help determine what’s needed to address the issues. 

A perfect score for Cumberland schools

In Cumberland County, the elementary, middle and high school all showed improvement in multiple areas. Each school receives a “quality rating” of Level One, Two or Three when being considered for accreditation. Level One means you meet or exceed the state standards. Level Two means you’re showing improvement, but haven’t quite got there yet. Finally, Level Three means there are issues, as the school is performing below state standards. 

In Cumberland’s case, most of the ratings for all three schools came in at Level One. English scores showed the most growth for Cumberland High, with 85% of students passing their test. The state standard, by comparison, is 75%. It’s also the highest passing percentage for the school since 2018, when 81% passed. The only issue for the school came in math, where only 42% of Cumberland High students passed or showed significant growth. 

The news was similar at Cumberland Elementary School. The passing percentage for English increased here too, jumping from 73% in 2019 to 82%. Math passing rates at the elementary were also impressive, coming in at 86%, compared to the state standard of 70%. 

Finally at Cumberland Middle, the script was reversed a bit, with math coming in as the best pass rate at 84%. This wasn’t a surprise. You would have to go back before 2019 to see math pass rates below 80% at the middle school. The only issue for Cumberland Middle students came in science, where only 50% passed the state test or showed significant improvement. That’s a drop from 78% in 2019. 

Cumberland Superintendent Chip Jones said he was proud of the work his teachers, students, staff and others did to get to this point. 

“Our success in regards to accreditation is the result of commitment and collaboration among our students, the entire CuCPS team and the support from the Cumberland community,” Jones said. 

Buckingham officials see improvement

Meanwhile in Buckingham County, each of the schools improved in some areas, while falling short in others. 

For example, Buckingham Elementary and Buckingham Primary both struggled with pass rates in science. Only 41% of students at Buckingham Primary either passed the test or showed significant improvement. The number was identical at Buckingham Elementary. 

For Buckingham Middle, the problem was English. Even though they improved, with 67% passing, compared to 66% in 2019, the school fell short of the 75% standard set by the state. Math, on the other hand, wasn’t a problem. The school’s 84% pass rate was much higher than the state’s 70% benchmark. 

And finally, there’s Buckingham High, the school in the district fully accredited by the state. Students exceeded state standards across the board, with math a specific highlight. In 2019, the school reported that 73% of students either passed or showed significant improvement on the math test. This time around, that number spiked to 86%. 

We feel good about our position, with Buckingham High School being fully accredited and the Middle School, Elementary and Primary all being accredited with conditions,” said Buckingham Superintendent Dr. John Keeler. “We have a plan to address the deficiencies that we need to improve and are busy with the implementation of our plans.”

Keeler also said the district is implementing new programs to motivate students by recognizing academic success and behaviors. The goal is to emphasize the positive, to encourage continued improvement.

 

To read about this year’s SOL scores, click here.