Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe visited staff and students at Patrick Henry Elementary School on Tuesday – the day state accreditation results were released – to personally congratulate them on their high performance this year.
Fifteen out of sixteen schools within Alexandria City Public Schools earned state accreditation when this year’s results were announced. Patrick Henry earned full accreditation status by showing large gains in student achievement each of the past two years. T.C. Williams High School earned full accreditation after previously being accredited with warning for a single year in mathematics.
Patrick Henry increased its performance by an average of 20 percentage points across all four content areas in the last two years to reach full accreditation this year. The school achieved 79 percent in English, 78 percent in math, 86 percent in history and 78 percent in science in this year’s SOLs. Previously, the school was accredited with warning in English and science.
Governor McAuliffe was met on the steps of Patrick Henry by three students to whom he handed coins from the Governor’s Mansion as rewards for doing so well in their SOLs. The Governor then talked to 14 students in grades three, four and five about projects they had recently completed, including connecting a light bulb with their bodies.
This is a great example of where we want all our schools to be. It is clear that staff worked hard to ensure success in the SOLs at every level. I am glad to be here at this great school on an important day like today,” said the Governor.
School accreditation ratings reflect student achievement on SOL tests and other approved assessments in the four core academic areas of English, mathematics, science and history. Ratings are based on student achievement on tests taken during the previous academic year or may reflect a three-year or four-year achievement average.
To be Fully Accredited, schools must achieve benchmarked SOL pass rates of 75 percent in English (reading and writing combined) and 70 each percent in math, history and science tests. Schools must meet all benchmarks in the current year, or a three- or four-year average to be considered Fully Accredited.
Before leaving, the Governor, accompanied by State Secretary of Education Anne Holton, gave the students a group hug on the steps of the school. He also went down the line of teachers and shook every teacher’s hand.
“The staff and students at Patrick Henry Elementary have worked very hard to achieve the gains that have resulted in our school meeting all benchmarks for accreditation. I am proud of the transformation we have made over the past three years to build and establish a school culture that is built on our motto, ‘Work Hard to Get Smart’. Our staff prides itself in creating an environment that provides a ‘you can do it’ support system in every aspect of the students’ day,” said Patrick Henry Principal Ingrid Bynum.
Patrick Henry focused on relationships and data as a basis for delivering the results of the academic program. They built solid relationships with students to provide individualized instructional opportunities. Each child reviewed his or her data and set goals with their teachers with a keen focus on continuous improvement. In addition, Patrick Henry modified its instructional program to meet the individual needs of students in both literacy and mathematics.
The model at Patrick Henry is one that is being replicated at other schools across ACPS. The focus on fulfilling each student’s individual educational needs is already seeing positive results at other schools.
Alexandria City Public Schools saw indisputable growth in this year’s SOL pass rates across the four core disciplines in all of its schools. During the past year, ACPS strengthened instructional practices, increased teacher training to focus on specific student needs and frequently monitored student performance.
“Our goal is to be a high-performing school division across the board, by creating optimal learning environments, equal access to program opportunities and embracing our diversity so that every student – no matter what their background or where they are from – can succeed,” said Superintendent Alvin L. Crawley.
Under the new accreditation ratings, John Adams Elementary School and William Ramsay Elementary School will be classified as Partially Accredited: Improved School, based on the improved student achievement seen within those schools within the most recent year. Francis C. Hammond Middle School will be classified as Partially Accredited: Warned School. Jefferson-Houston School showed tremendous gains in the most recent year, meeting improvement criteria set by the state in three out of four content areas, and has set a course to reach full accreditation within the next two years.
See additional photos from the visit on the ACPS Facebook page.