Twelve city schools gain full accreditation

Twelve city schools gain full accreditation
After receiving an accredited with conditions status for the 2018- 2019 school year, T.C. Williams High School and Jefferson-Houston were both fully accredited for the 2019-2020 school year. (File Photo)

By Missy Schrott |

Twelve of the 16 Alexandria City Public Schools, or 75 percent, received full accreditation for the 2017-18 school year. This is slightly below the statewide average of 86 percent being fully accredited.

Jefferson-Houston was denied accreditation for the sixth consecutive year. Only one school in Virginia — Vernon Johns Middle School in Petersburg — has been without accreditation longer.

Despite being denied accreditation, Jefferson-Houston has made considerable improvement in its Standards of Learning test scores during the past four years. Last year, it surpassed the state benchmark in history, but fell three points short in science and was four points low in math.

“The news for us, in terms of Jefferson-Houston and their progress, is very good news,” ACPS Communications Director Helen Lloyd said.

The improvements have in part been a result of the school’s renovation in September 2014. The same year, Jefferson-Houston welcomed a new principal, Dr. Christopher Phillips. Since then, Jefferson-Houston has been improving its test scores and growing in school population each year.

“Its accreditation is denied, but it’s very close, it’s extremely close,” Lloyd said. “To do that in a threeyear period is almost impossible, so what they’ve done is really remarkable progress.”

Phillips said the upward trajectory of test scores will continue with internal training and collaboration with the greater ACPS.

“We’re really doing a lot of internal training so that it sustains itself. We’re trying to do sustainability so that no matter who sits in this seat, the building continues to evolve,” he said. “Building that culture is probably one of the most important parts of what we’ve done.”

Interim Superintendent Lois F. Berlin said in a press release, “I am confident that the school will continue to see progress this school year as it continues its march to success.”

Three additional ACPS schools have only partial accreditation: T.C. Williams High School, Francis C. Hammond Middle School and William Ramsay Elementary School.

Although T.C. Williams fell short again this year in math achievement, it did meet the benchmark in the graduation completion index, an accomplishment Lloyd said ACPS was excited to see.

Hammond missed full accreditation because of sub-par scores in English.

William Ramsay remains behind in science scores. It was listed by the Virginia Department of Education as one of 48 Focus Schools in the commonwealth, meaning it must employ state-approved, school improvement coaches.

Another ACPS school, John Adams Elementary, attained full accreditation this year, after missing the benchmark in science and receiving partial status last year.

This accreditation report from the Virginia Department of Education follows last month’s release of overall Standards of Learning results, in which ACPS declined slightly in all five subject areas during the 2016-17 school year over the prior year. In addition, ACPS experienced a two-year decline in math of more than 4 percent.