All but three county schools accredited

All but three Prince William schools are fully accredited by the Virginia Department of Education for the 2007-2008 school year, state education officials announced Thursday.

Three county middle schools: Fred Lynn, Mills E. Godwin and Stuart M. Beville, were accredited with warning this year.

Accreditation ratings for the current school year are based on the results of Standards of Learning tests taken in the 2006-2007 school year.

For middle and high schools to be fully accredited, at least 70 percent of the schools’ students must pass the English, math, science and social studies SOL tests.

At the elementary school level, at least 75 percent of students must pass the English tests, at least 70 percent must pass mathematics, fifth-grade science and fourth- and fifth-grade history tests and at least 50 percent must pass third-grade science and third-grade history tests.

If schools do not meet those benchmarks, they are accredited with warning.

Schools that are accredited with warning for three years in a row can be denied accreditation by the Virginia Department of Education.

The three Prince William County middle schools that were accredited with warning this year fell short of the state benchmarks in math.

Two of the schools, Fred Lynn and Beville, are accredited with warning for the second consecutive year.

This year, 60 percent of Fred Lynn’s students and and 57 percent of Beville’s students passed the math tests. Both schools achieved higher math passage rates this year, but still fell short of the state benchmark of 70 percent. Last year, 51 percent of Beville’s students and and 50 percent of Fred Lynn’s students passed the math tests.

The math passage rate dropped at Godwin this year, from 70 percent to 63 percent.

Middle school math scores continued to be a problem throughout the state this year, Virginia Department of Education officials said.

Sixty-nine percent of Virginia’s middle schools were fully accredited this year, compared to 96 percent of the state’s elementary schools and 96 percent of Virginia high schools. But math test passage rates increased at 275 middle schools in the state this year, state officials said.

“Virginia’s expectations for achievement in mathematics are challenging – especially in the middle grades as students prepare for algebra and geometry,” state Superintendent of Public Instruction Billy K. Cannady Jr. said in a statement.

A new, more challenging math SOL test was introduced at the middle school levels two years ago, leading to a drop in test scores. But middle school math scores are on their way back up, state and local officials said.

“We made significant gains this year on the mathematics tests given at the middle school level but we will concentrate our efforts in this area to meet this challenge,” Prince William County Superintendent Steven L. Walts said in a statement.