Celebrate: All Schools Accredited*

Celebrate: All Schools Accredited*
Posted on 08/09/2019

Based on preliminary results released by the Virginia Department of Education, all schools are fully accredited

All Suffolk Public Schools are fully accredited, according to preliminary data released by the state Department of Education.

Director of Secondary Leadership Dr. Stenette Byrd III and Director of Elementary Leadership Pam Connor revealed the news during the School Board’s vision planning meeting Thursday.

When Connor revealed the news, shouts and cheers went up among board members and division staff.

School Board Chair Phyllis Byrum said the full accreditation status is due to the hard work and collaboration by the school division’s staff and administration, along with teachers, parents and students. She and everyone on the board offered their praise.

“I’ve been on this board for many, many years, and I’ve been waiting for this moment,” Byrum said. “I just want to say that this is a wonderful day to be in Suffolk Public Schools, and it’s a wonderful day to be in the city of Suffolk.”

The biggest gains came in math scores, as all elementary and secondary schools saw improvements in their math pass rates.

Though specific pass rates were not available for individual schools, Connor, using the preliminary data, highlighted significant gains of at least 17 percent at nine schools, including a gain of 36 percentage points for seventh-grade math students at John Yeates Middle School, and Algebra I pass rates that increased by 28 percent at King’s Fork High School and 22 percent at Nansemond River High School.

Division-wide, math pass rates increased from 75 percent in 2018 to 83 percent in 2019. In grades 3 through 8, pass rates increased anywhere from 4 to 16 percentage points. All but seventh-grade math had at least an 80-percent pass rate. Seventh grade math pass rates, however, went from 54 to 70 percent in the same time period.

Algebra I pass rates went from 79 to 90 percent, and Algebra II pass rates went from 79 to 91 percent. Geometry pass rates rose to 85 percent.

“Math is where we’re really celebrating the success,” Connor said. “We made great gains here.”i

At the elementary level, the division either maintained or increased their pass rates in reading, math and science, and dipped by 6 percent in history. Elementary schools do not have a writing SOL.

The division’s middle schools made gains in reading and math, maintained levels in science and history, and dipped five percent in writing. High schools saw a slight increase in reading, a slight drop in writing, an increase in math from a 72 to 85 percent pass rate, and a drop of 4 percentage points in history pass rates.

“Writing, we did not make the gains we had hoped for, but our English department has already taken this information and put strategies in place to support that,” Connor said.

In the 2016-2017 school year, seven schools were accredited with warning — Booker T. Washington, Mack Benn Jr., Elephant’s Fork and Nansemond Parkway elementary schools, as well as John. F. Kennedy, King’s Fork and Forest Glen middle schools. That went down to five by the next year, with Forest Glen and Nansemond Parkway earning full accreditation.

Last year, Booker T. Washington and Mack Benn Jr. were accredited with conditions under the first year of new state accreditation standards.

Under the accreditation ratings, schools earn one of the following three ratings — fully accredited, accredited with conditions or accreditation denied.

Vice Chair Dr. Judith Brooks-Buck praised everyone associated with the school division, from those on the front lines to those working behind the scenes in all roles. She said the school division’s business community and church partners also deserve credit.

“I am elephant proud and hyena happy,” Brooks-Buck said.

Board member Tyron Riddick, while echoing comments from other board members, also praised past board members, while David Mitnick said he was pleased to get the news prior to the end of outgoing superintendent Dr. Deran Whitney’s term.

Interim superintendent Dr. LaToya Harrison celebrated along with board members.

“We are extremely proud of the hard work of our students, and this is something to build upon,” Harrison said.

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