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Spotsy schools to do review
Spotsylvania County schools to perform annual review


Date published: 10/16/2007

BY KAREN BOLIPATA

In Spotsylvania County, all schools are treated equally, regardless of test scores.

"Wherever we are, we can improve," said Edlow Barker, assistant superintendent of instruction of Spotsylvania County public schools. "That's the philosophy of the school improvement plan."

That plan is an annual review required of all county schools. Teams of principals, guidance counselors, teachers and parents work together to define goals for each school.

Even schools that performed well on the Standards of Learning tests have to develop plans.

This year, 25 of the 28 county schools are fully accredited according to Virginia Department of Education standards. Three are accredited with warning: Chancellor and Post Oak middle schools, and Berkeley Elementary School.

"I wish our student performance had been better. I will always wish that," Barker said. "But overall I'm pleased with the effort our teachers, staff and students are making, and we have to continue to support that effort."

To be fully accredited, 70 percent of students tested must pass in math, English, science and history SOLs, excluding some exceptions. In third to fifth grades, the English pass rate is 75 percent. In third-grade science and history, the pass rate is 50 percent.

The schools accredited with warning missed one subject each: math or history. A school can only be accredited with warning three consecutive years before it loses accreditation.

Berkeley Elementary School saw improvement in math from the previous year's result, Principal Michael Brown said. The school came up short in history this year, but Brown noted many students who failed tests in the past now can pass them by 50 points.

In a school of less than 400 students, a few passing or failing really make a difference in the school's overall score, Brown said.

"In this day and age you can't be complacent and be satisfied with continuing what you're doing because the bar keeps raising," he said.

At Chancellor Middle School, Principal Shirley C. Eye said this is the first time the school didn't receive full accreditation. Rezoning changed the student body, and kids need time to acclimate to the environment, she said.

The faculty was disappointed to see students fell short in math, but is currently looking at ways to address those issues.

"We need parental involvement in our program to see that students are present and that students are engaged in their own learning,: Eye said. "I want the community to know that we're going the second mile to reach our students."

Keith Wolfe, principal of Post Oak Middle School, said the school's low performance in math has prompted them to provide professional development services, tutoring nights and homework-help programs.

This is the second consecutive year the school has been rated accredited with warning.

"We've got some work to do," he said.

Karen Bolipata: 540/374-5418
Email: kbolipata@freelancestar.com