Richmond schools reach 100 percent accreditation

Published: Sep. 15, 2010 at 10:00 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2010 at 10:17 PM EDT
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By Andy Jenks - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - New Standards of Learning test scores are in and one local district celebrates an historic achievement.

In Richmond, all public schools became fully accredited based on their SOL scores. School leaders hope it will finally change a perception that city students can't always perform like their suburban counterparts.

In the end, it came down to one school.

Boushall Middle School, on the Southside, never could get fully accredited. At the middle school level, accreditation is awarded when at least 70 percent of the students pass SOL exams in English, history, math, and science.

This year, accreditation finally happened, and so the celebration, began.

"And if you can count, that means we are 100 percent accredited," said Dr. Yvonne Brandon, superintendent of Richmond Public Schools.

For Richmond, it represents a dramatic improvement. While 100 percent of the schools met or exceeded the minimum standard this year, back in 2002, the number was only 19 percent.

It's a message, guaranteed to be going home to parents.

"This is the reality that we dreamed about when we were at 19 percent," Brandon said, adding, "They now know that we can do it. They will help the embrace that momentum and move it forward."

Statewide, 119 out of 132 school divisions did what Richmond did, including Chesterfield and Hanover, but not Henrico. Henrico missed on 100 percent accreditation because of one school, Highland Springs Elementary, which for the third year in a row, was accredited "with warning."

Henrico schools did, however, see overall scores go up, a goal that is now being adopted in Richmond. RPS once was the second lowest performing district in all of Virginia, but not anymore.

"We're the crowd that knows how to make something from nothing, and when they tell us we can't, we're the crowd that says, doggone it, we can!" said Mayor Dwight Jones.

"We will have 100 percent next year. We're here to stay," Brandon said.

In Petersburg, Stuart Elementary and Peabody Middle School were denied accreditation. But, Vernon Johns Junior High earned full accreditation after being denied for three years in a row.

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