By: Meredith Baker | Email: Click Here
Posted: November 12, 2018 | 1:40 p.m.
DINWIDDIE – State accreditation standards are in the process of changing to include different factors, but all seven of Dinwiddie County’s schools are still accredited this year.
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Royal Gurley shared information at a recent school board meeting about the new standards and how the county’s schools measure up in the various areas that the state is tracking. Gurley said that the new guidelines are about continuous improvement.
“One great thing with the new accreditation model is that students are given credit for growth,” Gurley said.
One of the key changes to the standards is the fact that schools will be accountable for attendance, and students who miss 18 days or more will be considered chronically absent. Gurley said that both excused and unexcused absences are counted against a school, though students receiving homebound services will be counted as in attendance. Gurley said that the division wants students who are sick to take care of themselves but also wants to educate parents on attendance issues and help make sure their children can get to school.
“We’ve always valued students’ attendance,” Gurley said. “You know, you must be present to learn.”
At the high school level, the division is using new course offerings as a way to keep attendance and graduation rates up.
“We truly believe that if we keep them interested and engaged, they’ll be here, and so we’re offering those things that they want to do,” Gurley said.
The state no longer measures history results for accreditation purposes, but it does still review English, math, and science scores. Ratings also reflect the English and math proficiency of subgroups, including students with disabilities and Asian, black, economically disadvantaged, English learning, Hispanic, and white students.
The division-wide pass rate in reading has climbed in recent years and now matches the state-wide pass rate of 79 percent. Students with disabilities have also made gains, achieving a 52 percent pass rate in reading last year compared to 39 percent three years ago. The division-wide pass rate is at 76 percent in math and 74 percent in science, whereas the state has a pass rate of 77 percent in math and 81 percent in science. Gurley said he looks at areas that are not as strong as areas of opportunity, and he said the division has already begun increasing the rigor of its science classes.
“As a school division, we have placed a lot of targeted assistance in this area,” Gurley said.
Graduation rates continue to be monitored under state guidelines. Dinwiddie County’s on-time graduation rate was nearly 88 percent last year, which was a slight decline, but Gurley said that number does not include students who have to stay in school an extra semester but are getting the assistance they need to graduate.
The division also saw major gains among black students, who graduated at a rate of over 92 percent and dropped out at a rate of less than two and a half percent.