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12 City Schools Achieve Full Accreditation

Final Standards of Learning test results show Alexandria public schools continuing to improve.

The state Department of Education released the list of schools that attained full accreditation late last week. Twelve of Alexandria’s public schools were on that list.

“We are thrilled with these results,” said Mollie Danforth, vice chair of the Alexandria School Board. “The results indicate that failing to meet Adequate Yearly Progress does not mean a school is a failing school. Twelve of our schools are fully accredited and we are appealing the Patrick Henry results.”

The schools that did not reach full accreditation and were warned are Maury Elementary School, Jefferson-Houston School for Arts and Academics, Cora Kelly Magnet School and Patrick Henry.

The provisional accreditation categories for ratings earned during 1999-2000 through 2002-2003 no longer exist. Schools are now either fully accredited or accredited with warning, except in the cases of alternative schools with approved or pending alternative accreditation plans. Cora Kelly had been accredited last year. All of the city’s secondary schools met full accreditation.

“WHEN WE SAW the preliminary results this summer, we believed we had made it, but receiving the official word is always good,” said John Porter, principal at T. C. Williams High School. “We continue to do very well in English and are improving in other areas. Science and math continue to fluctuate and we are addressing that. All in all, I am very pleased and proud of the staff and students who have worked so hard to see that we are accredited.”

T.C. had a pass rate of 87 percent in English, a 78 percent pass rate in math and a 79 percent pass rate in science. History, which had been a problem in past years, showed a pass rate of 81percent.

“We knew last summer that we were once again fully accredited,” said Kris Clark, the principal at Francis Hammond Middle School. “Now that we are doing so well in all test areas, we are looking at ways to increase the number of students who are passing the SOL tests with advanced status. Our teachers are not only working with students on content but are teaching test-taking strategies as well.

“In reading, our Boys In Literacy Initiative has been truly successful. Jodie Kuleck, our reading specialist and Rob Murphy, one of our English as a Second Language teachers, started the club. This year, they got a $10,000 AOL grant to support the club. These are the kinds of initiatives that have led to full accreditation,” she said.

Hammond had an 80 percent pass rate in eighth grade English, a 96 percent pass rate in math and an 86 percent pass rate in history. Students who take algebra or geometry had a 100 percent pass rate.

“This indicates that we really are doing a good job screening students and that those who should be taking higher level mathematics are doing so,” Clark said.

STATEWIDE, 84 percent of all public schools are now fully accredited and 15 percent are accredited with warning. In Alexandria, 75 percent are fully accredited and 25 percent are accredited with warning. Pass rates in all areas are increasing. All Virginia schools must be fully accredited by 2007.

“The number of fully accredited schools grew even though accreditation requirements for elementary schools increased in reading, science and history,” said state Board of Education president Thomas M. Jackson, Jr. “Virginia’s teachers continue to demonstrate that they are up to the challenges of accountability and high standards for student achievement.”

Alexandria school superintendent Rebecca L. Perry agreed. “Our teachers, administrators, and students have worked extraordinarily hard to reach these goals,” she said. “We expect that our appeal of Patrick Henry’s status will be successful, as was our T. C. Williams appeal last year, and that Cora Kelly will rejoin the ranks of fully accredited schools next year. I’m also confident that Jefferson-Houston and Maury will soon be fully accredited, given their new leadership, the commitment of their teachers, and the additional resources that have been provided to them.”