Last month, the Virginia Board of Education revised state requirements for schools to meet accreditation and for students to graduate. The revisions will go into effect in the 2018-19 school year.
The new Standards of Accreditation encourage continuous improvement for all schools with emphasis on closing achievement gaps and providing a more comprehensive view of school quality. Under the revised standards, schools will be rated as either “Accredited” or “Accredited with Conditions” or “Accreditation Denied.”
The ratings will be based on multiple school quality indicators, including progress in English and math proficiency, in reducing achievement gaps in both subjects, and in reducing absenteeism and dropout rates. Under the revised standards, the number of possible ratings has been reduced from nine to three.
“Under these new standards, schools will be rewarded for the success of students who are on a trajectory toward meeting Virginia’s high expectations, even if they are not quite there yet. This addresses an inequity in our current system which sometimes labels schools serving children in poverty as failing when in fact students are making great strides and showing high growth from one year to the next,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples said.
For students, the revised regulations reduce the number of Standards of Learning (SOL) tests they need to pass in order to graduate. The new graduation requirements reduce the number of verified credits by one to five—one each in English reading, English writing, mathematics, science and history and social science—and will take effect with students entering the ninth grade next fall (class of 2022). Course requirements for both the Advanced Studies Diploma and the Standard Diploma would remain the same.
Schools will also be required to provide opportunities for students to learn about career options aligned with their interests. The new standards also implement the “Profile of a Virginia Graduate,” which emphasizes critical thinking, creative thinking, communication, collaboration and citizenship skills, in addition to academic achievement in English, mathematics, science and history.
The revised standards are in the final stage of the regulatory process, which includes a final review by the governor and secretary of education, and one last opportunity for the public to submit comments before the regulations become effective.