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Virginia Department of Education releases Federal School Accountability data

By David Kaplan, dkaplan@wdbj7.com
Web Staff, WDBJ7, news@wdbj7.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 07:24:40 AM EST
Updated On: Sep 17 2013 08:25:33 PM EDT

37 schools across Virginia have been marked as low-performing and need state assistance. Two of those schools are in Roanoke City: Lincoln Terrace Elementary and William Fleming High School.

RICHMOND, Va. -

37 schools across the state have been marked as low-performing and need state assistance, two of those schools are in Roanoke City: Lincoln Terrace Elementary and William Fleming High School.  The other school in our viewing area getting a "Priority" designation was Albert Harris Elementary.

Something to keep in mind here; the results released today are the federal benchmarks known as Annual Measurable Objectives, or AMO's that are based on the state's standards of learning tests or SOLs.

This is the second consecutive year that both Lincoln Terrace and Fleming are on this list.

It's also the second year that the state made the tests more difficult.

School leaders tell me if a school did worse on the SOL tests than the previous year, they got negative marks.

The schools state leaders are most concerned about are called priority schools.

They get select a state-approved team to help them turn scores around.

The next category is focus schools.

They're still subject to state intervention, but they're not as low-performing as the priority schools, there are focus schools that did better than last year.

Keep this in mind, nearly 25% of all the schools in Virginia didn't meet all of the AMO requirements in some way.

Those schools need to come up with their own plan to raise student achievement.

Roanoke City Schools' Superintendent Rita Bishop says labeling schools as failing isn't necessarily fair given the new, difficult standardized tests.

"We had a more rigorous test. They went down, they still exceeded it, but they couldn't beat what they'd done before on an easier test.  I don't think it's fair."

In terms of federal accountability, the news isn't all bad.

A few schools in our area made it off that priority list because of stronger performance on the SOL: Fries School in Grayson County, and Westside Elementary School here Roanoke City.

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The Virginia Department of Education released Federal School Accountability data Tuesday.

Albert Harris Elementary School in Martinsville, and Lincoln Terrace Elementary School and William Fleming High School in Roanoke were among 37 schools across the commonwealth put on Priority Status. That means those schools have to get outside help from state-approved partners to help design and implement new teaching models that meet state and federal requirements.

Two local schools that were given Priority Status last year were taken off this year’s list. They are Fries School in Grayson County and Westside Elementary School in Roanoke.

Some area schools were also designated as Improving Focus Schools, meaning they still require improvement. The focus school designation simply means the school's improvement plan is subject to state scrutiny, just not as majorly as a priority school. The following schools were on the "Focus" list last year, but have improved from last year to this year. They include: Big Island and Body Camp Elementary in Bedford; Altavista and Rustburg Elementary in Campbell County; Schoolfield Elementary in Danville; and Heritage, Paul Munro and Robert Payne Elementary Schools in Lynchburg.

Some other local schools were put on the Focus School list because they did not meet their Annual Measurable Objectives. However, they weren’t designated as Priority Status. Those schools include: Madison Heights Elementary in Amherst County; Bedford Elementary, Bedford Primary, and Moneta Elementary in Bedford County; and Brookneal Elementary.

Here is the news release from the Virginia Department of Education:

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) has identified 37 low-performing schools as Priority schools that must engage state-approved turnaround partners to help design and implement school-reform models that meet state and federal requirements. Another 73 schools, designated as Focus schools, must employ state-approved, school-improvement coaches. The designations are based on student achievement and outcomes during 2012-2013.

Under a two-year flexibility waiver granted in 2012 by the US Department of Education (USED), interventions under the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act — also known since 2001 as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) — are focused on Virginia’s lowest-performing schools.

The waiver granted Virginia schools relief from outdated NCLB-era rules and requires the state to designate the lowest-performing five percent of Title I schools as Priority schools. Another 10 percent of Title I schools are identified as Focus schools based on the achievement of historically low-performing subgroups. Title I of NCLB provides funding for schools with high percentages of low-income students.

The waiver also sets annual measurable objectives (AMOs) for narrowing achievement gaps in reading, mathematics and high school graduation rates. The AMOs serve as yearly progress goals for students in low-performing schools. Higher-performing schools are to improve or maintain achievement levels.

“It is important to consider the increased rigor of Virginia’s new reading and mathematics Standards of Learning (SOL) tests before making conclusions about schools that missed annual objectives,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright said. “Virginia has raised the bar to prepare students for the realities of the 21st century. Our challenge — from the superintendent’s office to the classroom — is to make sure students have the instruction and interventions they need to achieve the commonwealth’s college- and career-ready expectations, regardless of who they are or where they live.”

Status

Priority

Schools

Focus

Schools

Met All Requirements(Does Not Include Priority or Focus Schools)

Did Not Meet All Requirements

New

Schools

Total

Improvement Plan Required

Improvement Plan Not Required

Number of Schools

37

73

715

459

534

10

1,828

Forty-one percent, or 743 of the commonwealth’s 1,828 schools — including one of the 37 Priority schools and 27 of the 73 Focus schools — met all of the objectives. Since Priority and Focus schools comprise set percentages of Title I schools, it is possible for a school to meet all AMOs and receive one of these designations. Twenty-five percent, or 459 schools, must implement improvement plans to raise the achievement of student subgroups that fell short of one or more benchmark pass rates. No plans are required for 534 higher-performing schools that met all of the annual benchmark pass rates but experienced slight declines in the performance of one or more subgroups.

The AMOs represent the percentage of students within each demographic subgroup that must pass SOL tests in reading and mathematics in order to make what the state board and USED define as acceptable progress toward reducing — and ultimately closing achievement — gaps. High schools must also meet benchmarks for raising graduation rates.

“In setting the objectives, the Board of Education started with actual achievement on the new SOLs in our lowest-performing schools and then created goals that require the students who are farthest behind to make the largest annual gains,” Board of Education President David M. Foster said. “The AMOs are challenging but achievable goals that, if met, will considerably reduce achievement gaps, while holding schools accountable for continuous improvement for all students.”

Ten schools designated as Priority schools during 2012-2013 exited this status for the just-commenced 2013-2014 school year as they are no longer among the lowest-performing five percent of Title I and Title I-eligible schools. These schools are as follows:

PRIMARY SCHOOLS

· Alexandria — T.C. Williams High

· Brunswick County — James S. Russell Middle

· Colonial Beach — Colonial Beach High

· Grayson County — Fries School

· King and Queen County — Central High

· Norfolk — William H. Ruffner Middle

· Petersburg — Peabody Middle and Vernon Johns Junior High

· Prince Edward County — Prince Edward County High

· Roanoke — Westside Elementary


“All of these schools have made gains in collaboration with lead turnaround partners that were assigned as a result of corrective action plans approved by the state Board of Education or as a condition for receiving federal school-improvement grants administered by VDOE,” Wright said. “However, students in several former Priority schools continue to perform well below state accreditation standards. And two former Priority schools, Peabody Middle and Ruffner Middle, and two current Priority schools, Jefferson-Houston Elementary and Lafayette-Winona Middle, are on the list of schools that could come under the authority of the Opportunity Educational Institution.”

The 37 schools identified as Priority schools for 2013-2014 are:

PRIORITY SCHOOLS

· Alexandria — Jefferson-Houston Elementary

· Buckingham County — Buckingham County Elementary and Buckingham County Primary

· Franklin — Joseph P. King Jr. Middle and S.P. Morton Elementary

· Hampton — Jane H. Bryan Elementary

· Henrico County — L. Douglas Wilder Middle

· Hopewell — Hopewell High

· Martinsville — Albert Harris Elementary

· Newport News — Newsome Park Elementary, Sedgefield Elementary and Willis A. Jenkins Elementary

· Norfolk — Campostella Elementary, Jacox Elementary, Lafayette-Winona Middle, Lake Taylor Middle, Lindenwood Elementary, P.B. Young Sr. Elementary and Tidewater Park Elementary

· Northampton County — Kiptopeke Elementary and Northampton High

· Petersburg — A.P. Hill Elementary and J.E.B. Stuart Elementary

· Richmond — Armstrong High, Binford Middle, Blackwell Elementary, Elkhardt Middle, Fred D. Thompson Middle, Ginter Park Elementary, Henderson Middle, John Marshall High, Martin Luther King Jr. Middle, Oak Grove/Belle-meade Elementary, Richmond Alternative and Thomas C. Boushall Middle

· Roanoke — Lincoln Terrace Elementary and William Fleming High


Roanoke’s Lincoln Terrace Elementary was the only Priority school to meet all AMOs.

Focus schools retain their designation for a minimum of two years — unless they are subsequently identified as Priority schools or no longer receive federal Title I funding. Twenty-seven of the Focus schools identified in the fall of 2012 — and that retain this status for 2013-2014 — met all AMOs for reading, mathematics and graduation.

“Every student subgroup in these schools met its achievement goal on the new reading SOLs and every subgroup improved and met its AMO in mathematics as well,” said Wright. “I congratulate the teachers, principals and other educators in these schools and the VDOE-assigned coaches who helped them achieve this success.”

The 27 improving Focus schools are as follows:

IMPROVING FOCUS SCHOOLS

· Arlington County — Barrett Elementary

· Augusta County — Edward G. Clymore Elementary

· Bedford County — Big Island Elementary and Body Camp Elementary

· Campbell County — Altavista Elementary and Rustburg Elementary

· Chesterfield County — Crestwood Elementary

· Danville — Schoolfield Elementary

· Fairfax County — Annandale Terrace Elementary and Forestdale Elementary

· Hampton — Alfred S. Forest Elementary

· Hanover County — Elmont Elementary

· King George County — Sealston Elementary

· Loudoun County — Rolling Ridge Elementary

· Lunenburg County — Victoria Elementary

· Lynchburg — Heritage Elementary, Paul Munro Elementary and Robert S. Payne Elementary

· Manassas — Richard C. Haydon Elementary

· Northumberland County — Northumberland Elementary

· Nottoway County — Crewe Primary

· Prince Edward County — Prince Edward Elementary

· Prince William County — Elizabeth Vaughan Elementary and Suella G. Ellis Elementary

· Smyth County — Marion Elementary and Oak Point Elementary

· Stafford County — Rocky Run Elementary


The other 46 Focus schools — many of which also saw increased student achievement — for 2013-2014 are as follows:

FOCUS SCHOOLS

· Albemarle County — Scottsville Elementary and Woodbrook Elementary

· Alexandria — John Adams Elementary and Patrick Henry Elementary

· Amherst County — Madison Heights Elementary

· Arlington County — Campbell Elementary and Drew Model Elementary

· Bedford County — Bedford Elementary, Bedford Primary and Moneta Elementary

· Bristol — Washington-Lee Elementary

· Buena Vista — Enderly Heights Elementary and F.W. Kling Jr. Elementary

· Campbell County — Brookneal Elementary

· Culpeper County — Pearl Sample Elementary and Sycamore Park Elementary

· Fairfax County — Sleepy Hollow Elementary

· Fauquier County — Margaret M. Pierce Elementary

· Fluvanna County — Carysbrook Elementary

· Frederick County — Indian Hollow Elementary

· Fredericksburg — Hugh Mercer Elementary and Lafayette Upper Elementary

· Greene County — Greene County Primary and Nathanael Greene Elementary

· Greensville County — Greensville Elementary

· Hampton — Cesar Tarrant Elementary and John B. Cary Elementary

· Loudoun County — Guilford Elementary and Sugarland Elementary

· Louisa County — Moss-Nuckols Elementary

· Lunenburg County — Kenbridge Elementary

· Manassas — Jennie Dean Elementary

· Mecklenburg County — LaCrosse Elementary

· New Kent County — George W. Watkins Elementary

· Newport News — Carver Elementary, L.F. Palmer Elementary and Magruder Elementary

· Norfolk — Richard Bowling Elementary and Sherwood Forest Elementary

· Northampton County — Occohannock Elementary

· Nottoway County — Blackstone Primary

· Page County — Luray Elementary

· Prince William County — West Gate Elementary and Yorkshire Elementary

· Shenandoah County — W.W. Robinson Elementary

· Staunton — Bessie Weller Elementary