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Under changes made in 2017, many Virginia schools are fully accredited

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The vast majority of schools in Virginia are fully accredited. More than 1,600 schools are making the grade while fewer than 200 schools are not. Laura Goren at the Commonwealth Institute says the current accreditation system was created in 2017 to provide a full picture of how schools are performing and the progress they’re making.

"I think it's a real tribute to our students and their parents and the teachers that so many students and schools are doing pretty well despite the real challenges over the last few years," Goren says.

Governor Glenn Youngkin says the new accreditation ratings show a broken system that does not reflect learning loss or achievement gaps. But Chad Stewart at the Virginia Education Association says the new system accounts for improvements that schools are making rather than taking a punitive approach.

"So wherever a student is, whatever their baseline is, the focus is on improvement," Stewart says. "Which is somewhat of a change from our previous accreditation system where schools just had to hit a certain pass rate and then they could be fully accredited."

Following the money on accreditation is a little counterintuitive. According to an analysis from the Virginia Education Association, schools that are fully accredited receive about $800 more per student on average in state and local funding than schools that are not fully accredited — even though those are the schools that have the most challenging barriers to success and where the need is greatest.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Updated: September 26, 2022 at 3:36 PM EDT
Editor's Note: The Virginia Education Association is a financial supporter of Radio IQ.
Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.