3 schools in Hampton Roads denied conditional accreditation

Booker T Washington High School in Norfolk, Va. (Courtesy: schools.nps.k12.va.us)

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) – The Virginia Board of Education has denied conditional accreditation of two Newport News elementary schools and a Norfolk high school.

The decisions came down in a Board of Education meeting Thursday morning after the state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Steve Staples suggested the board pull the accreditation. The members voted unanimously to deny each one.

Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk was the only high school denied. Staples said in the meeting’s agenda that Booker T. Washington has not met the benchmarks in math, history, science, and the graduation and completion index for the past two years.

“Student achievement in history and mathematics has remained flat,” the superintendent of public instruction wrote.

Document: Read the full agenda here

“It made me feel bad, because I feel like I do well as a student here, and I feel like we should be doing better,” said Emani Hayes, a junior at Booker T. Washington.

Superintendent of Norfolk Public Schools Dr. Samuel King said the denied accreditation status will not appear on graduating seniors’ transcripts.

“Intervention continues with state-level involvement in the division and with the school to begin to move forward with meeting those benchmarks and those expectations,” King said.

According to a statement from Norfolk Public Schools, King requested conditional accreditation for Booker T. Washington because of the progress the school has made during the 2013-2014 school year. The statement listed the following as accomplishments the school has made:

  • Realized a seven percentage point (7%) increase relative to the school’s Graduation and Completion Index (GCI).
  • Met federal annual measureable objectives (AMOs) in English.
  • Transformed the leadership team (new principal, 3 new assistant principals, 4 new instructional. department chairs – English, mathematics, special education, and guidance/school counseling).
  • Expanded credit recovery opportunities during the regular school day.
  • Realized a decrease in student disciplinary referrals by 20.7%.

“We will work to ensure that the improvements continue and accelerate at … Booker T. Washington and all of our schools,” King said. “We will continue to analyze the needs of all students and to address appropriate needs across all subgroups of students.”

Newsome Park Elementary in Newport News was denied as well because, Staples wrote in the agenda, the school hasn’t reached the minimum in any content areas. From 2013 to 2014 school data, it has shown improvement in math only, according to Staples.

Sedgefield Elementary was the second school in Newport News refused accreditation because, like Newsome Park, it has not met the benchmarks in any content areas. Although, the document states the school has made significant improvements in math.

Newport News Public Schools released the following statement Thursday afternoon:

Newport News Public Schools is working to scale up success. By analyzing data and tailoring help for students, Newsome Park Elementary School and Sedgefield Elementary School are implementing aggressive, multi-faceted academic improvement plans.

The improvement plans at both schools include additional collaborative planning for all teachers, teacher coaches to support math instruction, certified reading specialists, and a state-approved turnaround partner to provide additional coaching and leadership support for staff.

Student support includes an additional 2½ hours a week of targeted learning time through a daily intervention and enrichment period, two academic interventionists who provide intensive instruction in reading and math for identified students and a Saturday Academy that integrates reading and mathematics with hands-on science labs.

Family support is provided by family engagement specialists through literacy and math workshops, parent advisory committees and tools to help support learning at home. 

The three schools are in a group of eight from Hampton Roads applying for conditional accreditation status because they did not meet state minimum scores on the Standards of Learning tests and graduation rates. Booker T. Washington, Newsome Park and Sedgefield have all been accredited with warning since 2011.

Five schools were granted conditional accreditation during Thursday’s meeting:

  1. Jane Bryan Elementary in Hampton
  2. Willis Jenkins Elementary in Newport News
  3. Tidewater Park Elementary in Norfolk
  4. I. C. Norcom High in Portsmouth
  5. Bayside Middle in Virginia Beach

Before the meeting, Staples suggested to the board that these five schools should be approved for conditional accreditation.

Conditional accreditation gives a district up to three years to make changes at the respective school that would lead to better scores and eventual accreditation.

What happens when a school is denied?

After a school is denied, it must provide students’ parents with three things. These are outlined by the Commonwealth’s Board of Education:

  • Within 30 days, written notice of the school’s accreditation rating
  • A copy of the school division’s proposed corrective action plan that includes a timeline for implementation
  • An opportunity for public comment on the proposed corrective action plan prior to its adoption

Then there are two options: a memorandum or another application.

The memorandum of understanding must be signed by Nov. 1 and will include an educational service delivery and management review approved by the board. The school will also hire an approved turnaround specialist to address problems in the school.

The second option is – with the approval of a local school board – to apply again for conditional accreditation. The application must specifically identify deficiencies in the school.

The accreditation status of a high school does not appear on transcripts that are provided to colleges, universities or employers, according to the Virginia Department of Education.

Here is an FAQ page from VDOE about denied accreditation

Stats of the three schools denied

These statistics are from the Virginia Board of Education Oct. 23 agenda.
These statistics are from the Virginia Board of Education Oct. 23 agenda.
These statistics are from the Virginia Board of Education Oct. 23 agenda.
These statistics are from the Virginia Board of Education Oct. 23 agenda.
These statistics are from the Virginia Board of Education Oct. 23 agenda.
These statistics are from the Virginia Board of Education Oct. 23 agenda.


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