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In The News

Accreditation Ratings Released
NNPS is making progress while continuing focus on college and career-ready skills

(09/16/2014) -Students in Newport News Public Schools scored higher than the state benchmarks on several Standards of Learning (SOL) tests during the 2013-2014 school year: third-grade history, third-grade science, fourth-grade Virginia studies, civics and economics, middle school Algebra I, middle school geometry, high school reading, world geography, U.S. history I and II and world history. In addition, the school division is making notable progress in third- through fifth-grade mathematics, fifth-grade reading, seventh-grade reading, high school geometry, Algebra II and chemistry.

Mirroring statewide results, eight elementary schools saw mathematics test scores rise by 15 to 24 percentage points. In addition, 18 schools improved performance in two to three SOL test subjects.

"I am proud of our gains in achievement, but we know that we still have much work to do," said Dr. Ashby Kilgore, superintendent of Newport News schools. "We have high expectations that all students will engage in learning that prepares them for success not only on standardized tests, but also for college and careers."

In 2011, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) began implementing more rigorous standards in all subjects to better prepare students to meet national and international benchmarks for college and career readiness. As predicted by the VDOE, pass rates across the state declined, creating a new starting point or baseline for future test results. As a result of the new tests and higher benchmarks, the number of schools in Virginia that did not meet full accreditation standards quadrupled from 128 in 2012 to 545 in 2014. Similarly, Newport News Public Schools has eight fewer fully accredited schools this year.

State Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Steven Stapes, says fewer accredited schools does not equal lower achievement, "The increase that we will see in the number of schools that fall short of the state's accreditation standards must be viewed in the context of the higher standards and changing assessments. Students are not learning less; the state has raised the bar."

Accreditation ratings keep focus on student achievement

Based on VDOE data, seven Newport News elementary schools are fully accredited for 2014-2015: Deer Park, General Stanford, Greenwood, Hilton, Kiln Creek, Nelson and Riverside elementary schools. Fourteen elementary schools are accredited with warning: An Achievable Dream Academy, Carver, Charles, Dutrow, Epes, Hidenwood, Lee Hall, Magruder, McIntosh, Palmer, Richneck, Sanford, Saunders and Yates. Marshall Early Childhood Center, which added kindergarten classes this year, is conditionally accredited. The accreditation status of Jenkins, Newsome Park and Sedgefield will be determined at a later date.

Three middle schools are fully accredited: Dozier, Gildersleeve and B.T. Washington. An Achievable Dream, Crittenden, Hines, Huntington and Passage middle schools are accredited with warning.

Having met the state test benchmarks and the Graduation and Completion Index, Menchville High School is fully accredited. An Achievable Dream, Denbigh, Heritage, Warwick and Woodside high schools are accredited with warning.

Accreditation standards require all schools to meet objectives for achievement in English, mathematics, history and science. High schools also must meet a graduation and completion index. To be fully accredited for the 2014-2015 school year at least 75% of students must pass SOL tests in English and at least 70% of students must pass SOL tests in math, history and science. High schools must also attain a point value of at least 85 based on the Graduation and Completion Index. School accreditation for the 2014-2015 school year is based on the achievement of students on the 2013-2014 administration of Standards of Learning tests.

NNPS has a plan for progress

Newport News Public Schools' academic action plan focuses on increasing literacy and math skills, providing students with more time for extra help and making more time for learning by giving fewer tests.

At the elementary level, an additional 2.5 hours a week of targeted instruction for students is provided through the use of a daily intervention/enrichment block at all schools. Interventionists provide intensive instruction in reading and mathematics for students in need of additional academic support and teacher coaches are focusing on developing teachers in mathematics and content integration.

At all grade levels, the written curriculum for teachers has been simplified. Common, computer-based assessments will be utilized to assist teachers with monitoring student progress. And students will work cooperatively with teachers to create success plans that set performance goals which will be reviewed quarterly.

NNPS' curriculum supports student learning

Newport News Public Schools curriculum is aligned to the new SOL content, but NNPS educators go beyond teaching the minimum state standards. The NNPS curriculum combines the SOLs with the district's college, career and citizen-ready skills (information literacy, communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity and innovation, initiative and self-direction, social responsibility and collaboration) to better prepare students for success as learners, future employee and contributing citizens.

To assess student learning, SOLs and college, career and citizen-ready skills are integrated within performance assessments or tasks that students engage in to demonstrate their understanding and application of learning goals.

School accreditation is based on student performance on SOL tests. It is one measure of achievement. NNPS students are assessed regularly using a variety of measures to determine understanding and skill.