By Erich Wagner (File photo)
Despite making marked gains in state math tests this year, the embattled Jefferson-Houston School was denied accreditation again by the Virginia Department of Education.
Members of the Jefferson-Houston community worry that a second consecutive denial may lead to a state takeover of the institution. As one of only six schools in Virginia without accreditation, Jefferson-Houston is squarely in the sights of the Opportunity Educational Institute, which was created earlier this year.
Clinton Page, the executive director for accountability at Alexandria City Public Schools, did not return requests for comment. But he previously said that the district saw marked improvements in achievement at Jefferson-Houston.
While reading test scores dropped across the state — in part because of a new, more rigorous exam — math scores at Jefferson-Houston increased. The percentage of students testing proficient on the arithmetic portion of the Standards of Learning exam rose from 35 percent in 2011-12 to 50 percent in 2012-13.
“We’re viewing [reading scores] as the first year of the more rigorous assessment, as the start of a new trend line for both state and local divisions,” Page said last month. “We anticipate a similar level of improvement next year as we did this year in math.”
Officials said last week that the district’s federally funded partnership with the American Institutes for Research has produced dividends in the subject of math. They also announced a plan to expand the relationship, with the organization offering reading instructional support this school year.
Alexandria School Board members approved the creation of a Jefferson-Houston subcommittee earlier this month that will tackle the state takeover law head on. And the board approved a resolution supporting a legal challenge to the Opportunity Educational Institute, led by the Norfolk City School Board and the Virginia School Boards Association.
School board chairwoman Karen Graf was not immediately available for comment Tuesday.