Virginia’s revised system for calculating school accreditation goes into effect this school year. No longer will school accreditation ratings be primarily based on Standards of Learning (SOL) test results. Now, accreditation will be based on SOL results and a series of additional School Quality Indicators. In a press release announcing the changes, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) indicated that these changes are “designed to encourage continuous improvement for all schools while placing increased emphasis on closing achievement gaps between student groups and providing a more comprehensive view of school quality.”
Here is a closer look at factors that are calculated under Virginia’s new Standards of Accreditation (SOA) system.
This Achievement Indicator is based on students who pass SOL assessments in English (which includes reading and writing), math and science – similar to the state’s previous system. However, the new system permits additional students to be included as achieving based on student growth on SOL tests and progress of English learners.
Students who do not pass the reading or math SOL test but show growth according to “progress tables” developed by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) will also count as achieving for those subjects based on growth.
English learner students who do not pass the reading SOL test and do not show growth on the progress tables in reading, but show gains on their annual English language proficiency assessment will also count as achieving for reading.
These new rates will no longer be referred to as passing rates for a school but rather “combined rates.”
Science rates will only include students who pass the SOL tests.
Another change is that although history SOL tests will still be administered, results from these assessments will not be included in the new calculation system.
In addition to the achievement indicator, the VDOE will also take into account a series of factors, which are all new, except for one.
- Achievement Gaps – In addition to calculating the achievement of all students at a school, the VDOE will also calculate achievement in math and English for various demographic groups (such as economically disadvantaged, special education, English learners and by ethnicities). Each group will also be expected to meet the 75 percent pass rate in English and 70 percent for math.
- Chronic Absenteeism – Chronic absenteeism will be calculated for each school. A student is defined as chronically absent if the student misses 10 percent or more of the school year. The benchmark is that 15 percent or fewer students are chronically absent from school.
High schools will have three additional School Quality Indicators.
- Graduation and Completion Index – As in the past, a high school’s graduation and completion index will also be included in school accreditation calculations. However, schools will now have to reach an index of 88 compared to 85 in previous years.
- Cohort Dropout Rate – A cohort dropout rate refers to the percentage of students who entered the ninth-grade for the first time together and dropped out by the time that group of students was scheduled to graduate four years later. The expectation is that high schools will have a cohort dropout rate of 6 percent or lower.
- College and Career Readiness – This indicator will not be factored into the calculations until the 2021-2022 school year. At this time the College and Career Readiness Index is defined as a student receiving credit for advanced coursework, earning a career and technical education (CTE) credential, or participating in a work-based learning experience.
Impact on School Accreditation
Performance on each School Quality Indicator will also be rated at level one, two or three. Those levels of performance are important because it will determine what accreditation status a school receives.
- Accredited – If all School Quality Indicators are either at levels one or two, the school would be accredited.
- Accredited with Conditions – If one indicator falls within level three, the school would be identified as accredited with conditions.
- Accreditation Denied – When a school fails to implement school division or school corrective action plans according to set timelines, or has taken no action to identify improvement strategies or interventions, the school is reviewed for potential designation as accreditation denied.
The VDOE is scheduled to release 2018-2019 accreditation ratings Sept. 27.
Learn more about the revised calculation system by visiting the VDOE’s website.