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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Stuart HS fails to achieve full accreditation




Despite indications that JEB Stuart High School would be deemed fully accredited by the Virginia Education Department this year, it turns out the school missed by just one-half of a percentage point.

Stuart is now considered to be “partially accredited: approaching benchmark-graduation and completion index.” The slip happened because too many students earned a certificate of completion rather than a standard diploma because they didn’t pass all required state tests.

The lack of full accreditation doesn’t have an impact on Stuart students. “The courses, credits, and diploma still count for just as much as everywhere else” in Fairfax County Public Schools, said Mason school board member Sandy Evans.

Stuart Principal Penny Gros explained what happened in a memo to parents: State accreditation at the high school level requires schools to meet benchmarks in the four core areas reading/writing, math, science, and social studies). Seventy percent of students who take a test in science, social studies or math must pass that test. For reading and writing, the benchmark is 75 percent. 

“We knew that we had made all of those benchmarks following the spring 2015 administration of the Standards of Learning (SOLs) tests and were celebrating getting over the 70 percent pass rate in mathematics which had proven difficult in recent years,” Gros said.

High schools, however also have to be attain a fifth benchmark to be fully accredited; they have to earn a “graduation and completion index” of 85. The GCI calculation awards full credit for students who earn a Virginia Board of Education-recognized diploma and partial credit for other outcomes.

“In early October, we received unofficial news that we had met the benchmark of 85 and were projected to be fully accredited for this year,” Gros said. “I shared this great news last week at our monthly PTSA meeting and at a recent faculty meeting.”

“Unfortunately,” she continued, “I learned late last week that we have missed the mark by one-half of a percentage point. This occurred as a result of a small number of students who received a ‘certificate of completion’ in June instead of a standard diploma.”

Certificates were awarded to students who had passed all of the necessary coursework to graduate but were missing one or more SOL tests. “When the recalculation of accreditation status was done by the state last week, the small number of students who passed required courses but did not pass the associated SOL tests and did not re-enroll this fall negatively impacted our GCI number,” Gros said. 

Stuart administrators are working with FCPS staff to ensure that Stuart receives credit for all students who return to school to take SOL tests, as well as for students who return to school to take courses.

“If appropriate, we will appeal our accreditation status with the Virginia Department of Education,” Gros said. Evans is working with Del. Kaye Kory and state Sen. Dick Saslaw to pursue an appeal.

“This was indeed very disappointing news, especially missing the GCI by such a small amount,” Evans said.  “The school has made significant improvement and met every other benchmark. Until shortly before the official announcement, FCPS believed Stuart had made the graduation rate, and I’m still trying to find out where the disconnect was with the calculations.”

“While this is certainly disappointing news,” Evans said, “it doesn’t take away from the great work being done every day at Stuart, the dedication of the Stuart faculty and the wonderful education Stuart’s highly diverse student population receives.”

Stuart is among 15 Fairfax County school not fully accredited this year, including two others in Mason District.

Poe Middle School in Annandale was deemed “partially accredited: improving school-pass rate” for not scoring high enough in English on the SOL test. That designation is given to schools that are within 2 points of the adjusted SOL pass rates required for full accreditation in one or more subject areas. Forestdale Elementary School in Springfield and Whitman Middle School in Alexandria were also given that designation.

Annandale Terrace is one of nine FCPS elementary schools deemed “partially accredited: warned school pass rate.” That means the school is “not within a narrow margin of, nor making acceptable progress toward, achieving the adjusted SOL pass rates required for full accreditation.” Annandale Terrace fell short in science.

Two FCPS schools were identified as “partially accredited: approaching benchmark pass rate.”

35 comments:

  1. Sandy Evans, Penny Gross need to light a fire under the FCPS and get these schools up to speed. Honestly, who wants to move into Mason District with schools like that.

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  2. Yes Anonymous, it is all Supervisor Penny Gross' fault because she did not increase taxes enough, and shovel more money to the Fairfax County Public Schools bureaucracy - headed by an elected School Board, including Sandy Evans - where the bulk of the focus is on establishing gender-neutral bathrooms; teaching tolerance for those individuals who reside illegally in Fairfax County, USA; awareness of the terrible epidemic of police brutality of poor, innocent, defenseless, peace-loving, law-abiding, African-Americans; the importance of tearing down the reputations of America's founders such as that terrible bigot, the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson; forcing girls to love science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) even if they hate these subjects; and punishing boys by calling them hyperactive and putting them on brain-damaging drugs, because they act like boys.

    I'm so glad Mollie is running against Penny. Mollie has promised to prevent any redevelopment of the dump we know as Mason District (no one will develop Seven Corners under the strict limits set by Molly and her wealthy band of NIMBYS).

    No wonder Mollie is the favorite of the Mason District 1% who don't want to be disturbed by new development and neighbors.

    Yeah Mollie, your an Independent because you take responsibility for nothing. Just like the Independent in Arlington who prevented the Columbia Pike streetcar so those who drive Columbia Pike to the Pentagon can sit in hour-long traffic jams.

    Independents are failures. They achieve nothing positive, and excel in generating hostility against those trying to make a positive difference.

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    1. @5:21PM

      As a fellow rational Penny voter, please don't get the very angry NIMBYs who think roam the blog excited.

      The "Penny obsessives" like Mollie, Ellie, and the other folks will spend the next 40 years of their life commenting here and use this or any other thing to blame Penny. So be careful what you wish for in calling out Mollie because you will unleash the "Annandale Blog Angry Antis"!! And here they come :) !

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    2. All Aboard the Love Train!!

      People all over the world (everybody)
      Join hands (join)
      Start a love train, love train
      People all over the world (all the world, now)
      Join hands (love ride)
      Start a love train (love ride), love train


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    3. the fact you claim mollie is the 1% fav is laughable. mollie has support from the lower income workers of Mason as well as they also know Penny doesn't care about them

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    4. >The "Penny obsessives"... will spend the next 40 years of their life commenting here

      Gosh, is that how much longer she's going to be in office? :^ )

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    5. I am neither for not against either.....but I am sick of reading about them in responses to every article.

      Reading responses to articles on this blog is like watching Real Housewives of Mason District.

      OH NO SHE DIDN'!

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  3. "Certificate of completion" should be removed as an option for any student! If a student doesn't pass the required SOL's, they should not be given a diploma!

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    1. That gives them the perfect incentive to drop out and thereby learn even less.

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    2. DUH - Did you go to Stuart? That is exactly what the article said. If a student does NOT pass the required number of SOLs, they receive a certificate of completion, not a diploma.

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    3. What you said was that you want to skunk them even though, as here, they "passed all of the necessary coursework to graduate". What I said was that was hardly a motivation to stay in school.
      Your response was a snotty non sequitur.

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  4. Can an 8th grader, who is heading to Stuart next year, opt out of going there, as it is not a fully accredited school, and enroll in a Fairfax County high school that is fully accredited?

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    Replies
    1. Numerous families in Mason with children have moved out specifically for that reason. However, I don't believe you can simply enroll in a better school outside the Beltway by going there and knocking on the door.

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    2. You can't, as we tried to take our daughter to Woodson instead of Falls Church for many of same above reasons. She's at private school now...

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  5. Get a reality check, we live in the slums: armed robberies, sex offenders, declining uncredited schools, bad roads, little to no public transit. Build a wall, lock the door and throw away the key.

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  6. Really people! This issue is not about who likes Mollie or Penny.
    It is about how awful our education system is. Really what does an SOL test tell you about your child? What does it tell teachers about their students? Absolutely nothing!
    The focus needs to be on teaching our children to read and write. Teaching our children the higher level thinking skills they need to be educated adults.
    A school that is accredited because of a test does not mean they are a great school. It simply means they teach to the test well. And lets be real people the vast language and social economics diversity does impact scores. It is a fact, so stop comparing schools. If you look at the schools that are not accredited and look at the population that attends these school you know why they didn't get accredited. Their students are very capable of learning, but are starting their education at a different skill level.

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    1. "It simply means they teach to the test well." I've reviewed old copies of some of those tests and there's nothing on them that falls out the boundaries of what a well educated student should know. You can spin that "teach to the test" mantra all you wish, but those tests are fairly effective at determining whether students have mastered the subject matter.

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    2. I can vaguely empathize with some of these students after getting trapped in math hell during junior high and high school. There is no more helpless feeling than having a barely articulate teacher blathering jargon at you about mathematical principles that aren't anymore intelligible than Swahili. And that was just a sample of what some of these students are up against in the Mason schools. Once you get far enough behind, it makes little sense to keep showing up. So, I'll have to give those who don't quit major snaps for hanging in there. Unfortunately, the only way to fix this situation is by teaching one student at a time. That may sound like an imposition, but not for a school system that somehow always manages to find the money to pay for elementary foreign language immersion.

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    3. Teaching to the test happens all the time! Instead of using valuable time to teach students reading and writing teachers are spending valuable time teaching how to take a test and making students practice old SOL tests. That is not meeting the needs of students (especially elementary students). A good teacher and a good education system does not need a test to determine if content has been mastered. There are many other more effective ways to assess if subject matter is mastered.
      Test questions wording also does not always test if a student really mastered the content. Did the student really not know the content or did they miss the question because they didn't understand the question? How is that assessing content being mastered?

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    4. "Test questions wording also does not always test if a student really mastered the content." Oh, please. Attacking the test is the last resort of students who haven't mastered the material. Standard tests are a great diagnostic tool to determine whether students in all parts of the Commonwealth are receiving proper instruction. If not, it's up to the school districts to bring them up to speed.

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  7. Supervisor Gross says the quality of life is great in Fairfax County. She obvioulsy loves being the VC of the BOS, but she really doesn't like being our Mason District Supervisor.

    The schools and board are separate entities, yet Penny takes credit for the great schools in Fairfax County. She doesn't offer solutions for the Mason District school issues, because that is not her job. And, besides, Penny doesn't want to own up to being Mason District Supervisor.

    Tax and spend is Penny's job, at least as she sees it. VC Penny and Chairman Bulova have mismanaged the finances of our county (we have a huge deficit) and cannot see fit to cut wasteful spending at the county level to free up monies for the schools. They just raise tax assessments and next year they want to raise the tax rates. Who pays? The struggling middle class.

    Remove both Gross and Bulova from the Board of Supervisors next Tuesday.

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    1. And replace with???
      With citizens taking your position, no one who expects respect would volunteer to serve in office.
      This is not a boxing match, it is governance and the governed (like yourself) are part of the solution....
      I wouldn't work for those who exhibit denigrating attitudes toward those who at least try.....such as exhibited in this note.

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  8. The problem is not the schools or the teachers. It is the parents plain and simple, and neither Mollie or Gross can fix that. The PTAs are a joke because NO ONE gives a crap about the schools (besides bitching on this blog). Parklawn had only 5 people on the PTA last year and NO ONE wanted to be president. That is ridiculous. And this is why Parklawn is ranked 6 from the bottom of about 1100 schools in Virginia. that is right. 6 from the bottom. I found it amazing that just about every school in the deep southwest of Virginia rated better than Parklawn. People move out of Mason because they want to go to schools where parents are involved. And when parents are involved, the schools improve significantly. If you think Mollie is going to fix this, I don't think you have a good grasp of the issue.

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    1. That is because these parents are holding more than one job and having kids because that is what there religion tells them to do. The only thing many of these day labors want to do is get home, drink beer and have more kids to dump on social services.

      Build a wall, lock the door and throw away the key.

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    2. How ugly and nasty and offensive. You're the one who should get out of Mason -- we don't need that kind of hateful , bigoted attitude here.

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    3. "That is what their religion tells them to do". Sheesh, talk about not understanding basic issues of socio economic strife.

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    4. "The problem is not the schools or the teachers. It is the parents..." That's pretty much the case with everything involving children. In comparison to the rest of the county, a lot of kids in Mason seem to require assistance in catching up. Teachers tell me that's not fatal if they're disciplined and interested enough to learn. However, if the parents can't keep them in line, then the teachers sure can't. I have no idea what it's like to teach in Mason, but I have a suspicion that too many kids simply aren't coming to school interested or at least willing to learn.

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    5. To Anon 130 and 419PM. Don't be so self righteous and arrogant. There may be some truth to what Anon 718AM notes, although perhaps a generalist statement and a bit crude.

      Many of the unscreened and undocumented new comers are in many cases children themselves and their cultural mores may lead them to less than smart decisions regarding family planning. As a result this puts additional burden on County services such as schools, social services, transit etc.

      I would not be so quick to discount the validity of this commentary as our political leaders do and thus the situation is swept under the rug left for the tax payers to reconcile: either loss of services or higher taxes, sometimes all of the above, i.e. a faltering FCPS system.

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    6. This is from 1:30 p.m.
      There's plenty of self-righteous afloat on this blog and topic. Pray tell me how expressing prejudice and besmirching a group's faith - or as you would spin it, "cultural mores," helps advance this discussion at all. What would you have FCPS do? Should there be a "religious test" to attend schools in the county? Mandatory attendance at birth control lectures before you can enroll your child? Call me arrogant and self-righteous if you want, but there's no room in my neighborhood for this kind of prejudice.

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    7. I guess there is no room in you provincial neighborhood for thinking logically either.

      Seems like you have no editorial process or prejudice against stupidity. Perhaps Code Compliance can move a nice boarding house right next door to you so you can provide day care for 20 to 30 kids and teach them reading, writing and arithmetic. That may be better use of your limited intelligence.

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  9. This is an embarrassment to the Mason District and our County. FCPS never should have allowed JEB Stuart to fall so far over the past several years. I'm positive that the vast majority of the JEB Stuart faculty are incredible and work very hard for their students but FCPS allowed the school to be led by grossly incompetent leadership for way too long until replacing the Principal last year.

    It's a shame that Sandy Evans is running un-opposed this year. I do not think she has done a good enough job of representing and advocating for the schools in the Mason District. I also do not believe FCPS is managing its budget in a very reasonable manner. The fact that they are even considering cutting arts programs and charging fees for students to take tests for their advanced courses and be in sports is ridiculous and shows that FCPS's priorities are misplaced. That's also all not to mention that teacher compensation in FCPS is a joke compared to neighboring school districts. It's time to reduce excessive administrative staff and stop contracting with costly exam creators. The constant standardized testing of our students (especially in elementary schools) is both expensive and takes an enormous amount of invaluable teaching time away from the students.

    I'll be writing myself (Todd Bolick) in for Mason District School Board Representative.

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    1. Interesting that you mention this. It was reported last night on national news that all this testing has proven to be worthless regarding resources, time and outcome. As a result the Feds will be reducing these requirements for local districts. Educators need to get back to the basics, and parents need to work with their kids at home.

      To coin a popular phrase in this blog: build a wall (around these testing metrics), lock the door and throw away the key.

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  10. What an embarrassment from the days when JEB Stuart HS was prominently featured in National Geographic. Election Day is Tuesday. How about making some wise choices for Supervior and School Board, so we can clean up the mess?!?

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