State considering school rating system overhaul

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Schools across Virginia could see some big changes to the state’s rating system.

The Board of Education is considering an overhaul of the accreditation system that’s been in place for nearly 20 years.

State officials say some schools that are currently fully accredited have major problems that the system doesn’t address. They say the new system will point out those problems and give parents more information about their child’s school.

Currently, schools in Virginia are fully accredited if 75 percent of students pass english and writing and 70 percent of the students pass math, science and history. But state officials say some schools aren’t getting the credit they deserve, and some fully accredited schools aren’t addressing serious problems.

Bill Canaday.

“Either you passed or you failed, which means that you may be close but there’s no credit for growth,” Bill Canaday with the State Board of Education explained.

The state is looking at changing accreditation standards so that SOL test scores are not t he sole determining factor.

“Under this revised model we’re looking at other things in addition to SOL outcomes,” State Superintendent Steven Staples said.

Under the new system, a school would either be accredited, accredited with conditions or denied accreditation. The ratings would hinge on multiple factors besides test scores, factors that officials say will affect schools that are currently fully accredited.

“Like dropouts, like chronic absenteeism, like achievement gaps,” Staples explained.

Steven Staples.

State officials say if a school shows improvement, they’ll get credit for that. They say this will allow the state to zero in on specific issues at each school and go beyond SOLs.

“That’s a major incentive for students, for teachers and schools, but also for parents to see that a child is making progress,” Canaday added.

Parents will no longer just look at whether a school is accredited. They’ll also have an easier time seeing if a school has a specific issue that needs to be addressed.

The Board of Education has been taking public comment on the plan all summer. People in Richmond can voice their comments during the board’s meeting at 9 a.m. in the Jefferson Room on the 22nd floor of the James Monroe Building, located at 101 N. 14th Street in Richmond. They can also weigh in online before the board adopts any changes this summer.

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