RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - Annual school accreditation will be waived for the 2021-2022 school year, the Virginia Department of Education announced Tuesday.
Using emergency authority granted by the 2020 General Assembly, Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane waived the accreditation. Schools will be given a rating of ‘Accreditation Waived,” the same given to schools for the 2020-2021 school year in April.
Accreditation ratings are based on performance during the previous school year. Since the coronavirus pandemic led schools to close in March, Standards of Learning tests were also canceled. These tests are key in determining a school’s accreditation, meaning the VDOE will not have enough data to calculate accreditation ratings for 2020-21.
Accreditation is also measured by year-to-year growth in English and math, meaning VDOE won’t have sufficient data to calculate ratings for 2021-22 either, because even if students are able to take tests next spring, the department won’t have baseline data from 2019-2020 for measuring growth.
“Waiving annual accreditation for a second year will allow our schools to focus on assessing the impact of the shut down on students, academically and on their social and emotional well-being,” Lane said. “It will also allow school divisions to make decisions about resuming in-person instruction or reverting to virtual learning that prioritize the health of students and staff, without the added pressure of the possible impact on accreditation. If tests are administered during the upcoming school year, the focus should be on evaluating the impact of the pandemic on student learning and establishing a new baseline for measuring student growth.”
The Virginia Department of Education’s Office of School Quality says it will continue to support schools implementing improvement plans based on their accreditation ratings for 2019-2020.