This news release is from the previous Governor's administration.
For Immediate Release: October 27, 2015
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Brian Coy, 804-225-4260, | Virginia Department of Education, Charles Pyle, (804) 371-2420,

Governor McAuliffe Announces 10-Point Increase in Fully Accredited Schools

~All Schools Fully Accredited in 37 Divisions~


ALEXANDRIA— Today Governor Terry McAuliffe announced a significant increase in the number of Virginia schools earning accreditation in 2015. The increase is the first since 2010 when the state Board of Education took the first in a series of actions to set higher benchmarks for schools, while introducing more challenging academic standards and assessments for students.

“Offering every Virginia student a world class education in a public school is at the very foundation of our efforts to build a new Virginia economy,” said Governor McAuliffe. “This year’s strong progress is a reflection of the dedicated work of educators, parents and communities and a clear sign that the reforms we have put into place are working. Strategies like allowing expedited Standards of Learning (SOL) retakes are helping more students and schools reach for success by measuring student achievement without pinning their futures on just one high stakes test. I look forward to working with the General Assembly this year to build on this momentum by enhancing our investment in K-12 education and further reforming the SOL’s.”

Seventy-eight percent, or 1,414, of Virginia’s 1,823 public schools are rated as Fully Accredited for the 2015-2016 school year, based on the performance of students on Standards of Learning (SOL) tests in English, mathematics, science and history during 2014-2015. This represents a 10-point improvement over 2014-2015, when only 68 percent of schools were fully accredited.

“Getting challenged schools the resources they need to ensure student success is one of the most important steps we can take to improve our Commonwealth’s education system,” said Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton. “Every school that earned full accreditation this year is another school that is better preparing its students for a lifetime of success. As another legislative session nears, we are hard at work identifying investment opportunities and smart policy changes that will make Virginia the best state in the nation for students of all walks of life to achieve.” 

The 2014-2015 school year was the first during which students in grades 3-8 were allowed to retake SOL tests in reading, mathematics, science and history. On average, the performance of students on expedited retakes increased pass rates by about four points on each test.

The 2015 General Assembly also directed the Board of Education to revise the commonwealth’s accountability program to recognize schools close to full accreditation or making acceptable progress. On October 22, the board approved benchmarks for a series of “Partially Accredited” ratings that replace “Accredited with Warning” and other ratings under the old system.

“While there have been changes in the state accountability program this year to recognize schools that are making progress, the benchmarks schools must meet to earn full accreditation have not been lowered,” Board of Education President Billy K. Cannaday Jr. said.

For a school to earn full accreditation, students must achieve adjusted pass rates of at least 75 percent on English reading and writing SOL tests, and of at least 70 percent on assessments in mathematics, science and history. High schools must also meet a benchmark for graduation and completion. Accreditation ratings may also reflect an average of achievement over several years.

“The new ratings allow the state to be more precise in supporting schools,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples said. “We are now able to differentiate schools that likely can make it doing what they are already doing from schools that clearly require more support from the state.”

Of the 541 schools Accredited with Warning during 2014-2015, 200 are now Fully Accredited, 102 earned Partially Accredited: Approaching Benchmark or Partially Accredited: Improving School ratings for 2015-2016, 186 are rated as Partially Accredited: Warned School, 40 are asking the state board for Partially Accredited: Reconstituted School status, 10 have been closed by local school boards, and three schools on last year’s warning list have been denied accreditation for 2015-2016.

2015-2016 Accreditation Ratings

Accreditation Rating

Number of Schools

Percent of All Schools

Fully Accredited



Partially Accredited: Approaching Benchmark-Pass Rate



Partially Accredited: Approaching Benchmark-GCI



Partially Accredited: Improving School-Pass Rate



Partially Accredited: Improving School-GCI



Partially Accredited: Warned School-Pass Rate



Partially Accredited: Warned School-GCI



Partially Accredited: Reconstituted School



Accreditation Denied



Conditionally Accredited (New Schools)



To Be Determined



Total Schools



Thirteen schools in seven divisions are denied state accreditation for 2015-2016 because of persistently low student achievement:

  • Alexandria — Jefferson-Houston Elementary for a fourth consecutive year
  • Henrico County — L. Douglas Wilder Middle for a second consecutive year
  • Newport News — Mary Passage Middle for the first year, Newsome Park Elementary for a second consecutive year and Sedgefield Elementary for a second consecutive year
  • Norfolk — Campostella Elementary for a second consecutive year, Lake Taylor Middle for a second consecutive year,  Lindenwood Elementary for a third consecutive year and  William H. Ruffner Middle for a fourth consecutive year
  • Northampton County — Kiptopeke Elementary for a second consecutive year
  • Petersburg — Peabody Middle for a tenth consecutive year
  • Richmond — Amelia Street Special Education Center for the first year and Richmond Alternative for the first year

Schools denied accreditation are subject to corrective actions prescribed by the state Board of Education and affirmed through a memorandum of understanding with the local school board.

The status of 49 schools at risk of being denied accreditation — including 40 schools that were Accredited with Warning in 2014-2015 — will be determined by the Board of Education later this year. Under Virginia’s revised accountability regulations, a school that has not earned full accreditation for three consecutive years — and fails to meet state standards for a fourth consecutive year — can apply for a rating of Partially Accredited: Reconstituted School if the local school board agrees to reconstitute the school’s leadership, staff, governance or student population. A reconstituted school can retain this rating for up to three years if it is making acceptable progress.

Nine newly opened schools are automatically rated as Conditionally Accredited for 2015-2016.

All schools are fully accredited in 37 of the commonwealth’s 132 school divisions, compared with 36 divisions last year. The divisions with all schools fully accredited (other than new schools that automatically receive conditional accreditation) are as follows:

  • Appomattox County
  • Arlington County
  • Charlottesville
  • Colonial Beach
  • Colonial Heights
  • Craig County
  • Falls Church
  • Floyd County
  • Fluvanna County
  • Franklin County
  • Fredericksburg
  • Galax
  • Gloucester County
  • Goochland County
  • Hanover County
  • King William County
  • King and Queen County
  • Lexington
  • Mathews County
  • Middlesex County
  • New Kent County
  • Norton
  • Orange County
  • Poquoson
  • Powhatan County
  • Radford
  • Rappahannock County
  • Richmond County
  • Roanoke County
  • Salem
  • Scott County
  • Stafford County
  • Tazewell County
  • West Point
  • Williamsburg-James City County
  • Wise County
  • York County

Accreditation ratings for 2015-2016 for all schools and updated online report cards for all schools and school divisions are available on the VDOE website.

Federal Accountability 

Under a flexibility waiver granted by the U.S. Department of Education, supports and interventions under the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act — also known since 2001 as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) — are focused on the lowest-performing Title I schools. These schools are identified as either Priority or Focus schools. Like state accreditation ratings, the federal designations are based on achievement on SOL tests during 2014-2015. For high schools, the federal objectives include a graduation indicator that only recognizes standard and advanced diplomas.

Priority schools — comprising the lowest-performing five percent of Title I schools — must engage a state-approved turnaround partner to help design and implement school-reform models that meet state and federal requirements. The 36 schools identified as Priority schools for 2015-2016 are as follows:

  • Accomack County — Metompkin Elementary
  • Albemarle County — Benjamin F. Yancey Elementary
  • Alexandria — Jefferson-Houston Elementary
  • Buckingham County — Buckingham County Elementary and Buckingham County Primary
  • Danville — Woodberry Hills Elementary
  • Franklin — S.P. Morton Elementary
  • Halifax County — Sinai Elementary
  • Hampton — A.W.E. Bassette Elementary
  • Henrico County — L. Douglas Wilder Middle
  • Lynchburg — Dearington Elementary/Innovation and Perrymont Elementary
  • Martinsville — Albert Harris Elementary
  • Newport News — Horace H. Epes Elementary, Newsome Park Elementary, Sedgefield Elementary and Willis A. Jenkins Elementary
  • Norfolk — Campostella Elementary, Chesterfield Academy Elementary, Jacox Elementary, James Monroe Elementary and Lake Taylor Middle
  • Petersburg — Peabody Middle and Vernon Johns Junior High
  • Prince William County — Belmont Elementary
  • Richmond — Binford Middle, Blackwell Elementary, G.H. Reid Elementary, Ginter Park Elementary, Henderson Middle, John Marshall High, Martin Luther King Jr. Middle, Oak Grove/Bellemeade Elementary, Richmond Alternative, Swansboro Elementary and Woodville Elementary

Focus schools (comprising 10 percent of Title I schools selected on the basis of achievement gaps) must employ state-approved, school-improvement coaches. Focus schools retain their designation for a minimum of two years — unless they are subsequently identified as Priority schools or no longer receive federal Title I funding. The 73 Focus schools for 2015-2016 are as follows:

  • Albemarle County — Agnor-Hurt Elementary, Mary Carr Greer Elementary, Paul H. Cale Elementary, Red Hill Elementary and Stony Point Elementary
  • Alexandria City — William Ramsay Elementary
  • Alleghany County — Mountain View Elementary
  • Augusta County — Beverley Manor Elementary, North River Elementary, Riverheads Elementary and  Verona Elementary
  • Buena Vista City — Enderly Heights Elementary and F.W. Kling Jr. Elementary
  • Charlotte County— Bacon District Elementary
  • Charlottesville — Clark Elementary
  • Chesapeake — Norfolk Highlands Primary
  • Chesterfield County — Marguerite F. Christian Elementary
  • Clarke County —  Boyce Elementary and D.G. Cooley Elementary
  • Cumberland County — Cumberland Elementary
  • Fairfax County — Bailey's Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences, Herndon Elementary, Hutchison Elementary and Woodley Hills Elementary
  • Frederick County — Apple Pie Ridge Elementary, Middletown Elementary, Orchard View Elementary, Redbud Run Elementary and Stonewall Elementary
  • Grayson County — Baywood Elementary
  • Greene County — Nathanael Greene Elementary and Nathanael Greene Primary
  • Halifax County — Clays Mill Elementary, Cluster Springs Elementary and Sydnor Jennings Elementary
  • Harrisonburg — Smithland Elementary
  • Henrico County — Charles M. Johnson Elementary, Dumbarton Elementary and Lakeside Elementary
  • Hopewell — Dupont Elementary
  • Isle of Wight County — Hardy Elementary
  • Lexington — Harrington Waddell Elementary
  • Lunenburg County — Kenbridge Elementary
  • Lynchburg — William M. Bass Elementary
  • Madison County — Madison Primary and Waverly Yowell Elementary
  • Manassas — Baldwin Elementary
  • Mecklenburg County — Clarksville Elementary
  • Nelson County — Tye River Elementary
  • Newport News — Lee Hall Elementary
  • Norfolk — Tanners Creek Elementary and William H. Ruffner Middle
  • Petersburg — Robert E. Lee Elementary
  • Powhatan County — Pocahontas Elementary
  • Prince Edward County — Prince Edward Middle
  • Prince William County — Kerrydale Elementary
  • Radford — Belle Heth Elementary and McHarg Elementary
  • Richmond — Armstrong High, Bellevue Elementary, Chimborazo Elementary, George Mason Elementary, J.L. Francis Elementary, Lucille M. Brown Middle and Overby-Sheppard Elementary
  • Rockbridge County — Natural Bridge Elementary
  • Spotsylvania County — Spotswood Elementary
  • Staunton — Bessie Weller Elementary
  • Suffolk — Elephant's Fork Elementary
  • Sussex County — Sussex Central Elementary
  • Virginia Beach — College Park Elementary
  • Waynesboro — Wenonah Elementary
  • Westmoreland — Washington District Elementary

Additional information on the progress of Virginia schools and divisions toward meeting the goals of the commonwealth’s NCLB flexibility waiver is available on the Federal Accountability page of the VDOE website.