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More Virginia Schools Fall Short of State Accreditation Under Rigorous Tests

Thirty percent of Virginia's schools failed to receive state accreditation, the second straight year that the number of schools failing to attain that status has increased, according to the Virginia Department of Education.

The decline in the number of  schools receiving accreditation became evident after the state—one of the few that did not adopt the Common Core State Standards—implemented more rigorous math tests in the 2011-12 school year and did the same for reading, writing, and science assessments in 2012-13.

Sixty-eight percent, or 1,246 of the state's 1,827 public schools were rated fully accredited for the 2014-15 school year. Last year, 77 percent of schools received that distinction, and 93 percent did so in the 2012-13 year.

Ten schools—five elementary, four middle, and one combined—were denied accreditation.

The schools that received a designation called "accredited with warning" also rose to 545 from 393. Schools that got "accredited with warning" status were those where pass rates in the four core subject areas fell below the standards the state set for full accreditation. Those schools must undergo reviews and put into place school improvement plans.

Schools that are denied accreditation are required to develop corrective action plans that outline specific steps they intend to take to boost student achievement, along with a timeline for when they plan to implement those changes.

To earn full accreditation, at least 70 percent of the school's students must pass the reading and writing Standards of Learning (SOL) assessments, and 70 percent must receive passing grades in math, science, and history. There are also separate graduation requirements for high schools.

Despite the drop in the number of accredited schools, Virginia's Secretary of Education Anne Holton said the state's students continue to be among the highest performers in the nation, as measured by results on reading, math, and science tests.

"I am confident that the teachers, principals, superintendents and other educators who have brought our schools and students this far are up to this new challenge and, moving forward, we will see more and more schools regain full accreditation," Holton said in a press release. 

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