Isle of Wight, Surry schools accredited

Published 12:27 pm Wednesday, September 21, 2016

By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

Isle of Wight and Surry County school students and staff have another reason to walk tall this week.

All schools in both counties received full accreditation from the Virginia Department of Education, and can now wade into the new school year with a sweeping thumbs-up from the state that the counties are meeting standards and headed in the right direction.

The accreditations, which were announced Thursday, Sept. 14, are determined largely on student Standards of Learning exam scores administered by the state, in which both Surry and Isle of Wight schools saw stability in overall scoring this year.  {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

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Dr. Michael Thornton, who took over as Surry County Superintendent in July, said he and his staff were proud to have received the state recognition for each of the three schools in the division, and credited the achievement to the hard work of the students, teachers, building leaders and support teams in Surry.

“This accomplishment is important for our schools and community as we push for greater academic achievement for all our students,” Thornton said in an email.

The accreditation is also a significant tip of the cap to Hardy Elementary School in Isle of Wight, which struggled in its SOL performance last year.

After failing to meet state standards and receiving only partial accreditation with a “warned school pass rate” for 2015-16, Hardy made a triumphant comeback in its gap group scores this year, jumping 13 points overall in its English SOL scores to match the 84 percent state average. The school also climbed nine points in its overall math scores, reaching an 86 percent passing rate, two points ahead of the state average.

Executive Director for Elementary Education Susan Goetz said that teamwork and more focus on individual reading assignments for students helped to turn things around for the school’s scores.  

“The staff continually monitored and supported students throughout the year to ensure each child was making adequate growth,” Goetz said in an email.

Despite receiving full accreditation from the state this year, Hardy will retain its focus school designation, a label it was given last year that requires state-approved school-improvement coaches for Title I schools with a large amount of lower-income families. A focus school retains its designation for a minimum of two years, according to the VDOE.

Hardy was one of 72 focus schools in Virginia for the 2016-17 school year.

Overall, 81 percent of Virginia schools were fully accredited, up from 78 percent the previous year. Of the commonwealth’s 132 school divisions, 53 had all of their schools fully accredited, according to the VDOE’s press release. 

This year, 162 schools were awarded partial accreditation with varying degrees of warnings from the state. The fate is still yet to be decided for 145 schools that are at risk of accreditation denial.  {/mprestriction}