Elementary Accreditation, a Deeper Dive

Having seen the contours of the 2019 accreditation data for the Richmond schools, let’s take a look at the underlying numbers.

Here is the Big Picture for the English tests at the elementary schools:


The data are from the “School Quality Profiles

The green line marks the “Level 1” (at standard) benchmark. The gray is the “Level 2” (near standard) benchmark. Anything less is “Level 3” (flunking). A school at Level 1 or 2 is “Accredited.” Level 3 earns “Accredited with Conditions.” A school at Level 3 that “fails to adopt and implement school division or school corrective action plans with fidelity . . . “may be designated by the board as “Accreditation Denied.” (Translated: To be denied accreditation, a school or division must marinate in Level 3 and tell the Board of Education to go jump in the James.)

The blue bars are the average pass rates for each school.

Those pass rates are boosted by the magenta “Remediation Recovery” numbers. The orange boost is the percentage of students who, in VDOE shorthand [pick a school, scroll down to “Academic Achievement,” and click “show explanation”] “improved compared with prior performance on state English tests.” Similarly, the gold boost indicates  the “[p]ercent of English-language learners passing state English-language proficiency tests or making progress toward English-language proficiency.”

Make what you will of that system, these are the 2019 results in English for Richmond’s elementary schools.

As to math, there is no EL boost but the Level 1 benchmark drops to 70%.


Note: These data are sorted by the reported total while the graphs shows the sum of the parts. All the numbers from VDOE are rounded to whole percentages, producing roundoff errors

image image

and bumps in the math graph (which is sorted by the reported numbers).

For science, there are no adjustments so only the pass rates matter. The L1 benchmark again is 70%.


To summarize the accreditation results:


Looking at the data above, the conclusion is clear: “Accreditation Denied” has gone away; “Accredited with Conditions” is the new, more Superintendent-friendly euphemism that means much the same thing. 

Thus, if we read the new system for what it means, not what it says, it might even be taken as an improvement on the old, bogus system.  Let’s call it the new, bogus system.

But, then, “Board of Education” is itself a euphemism, if not an outright lie (for example, see this and this and this and this) so there’s no reason to expect honest reporting from their “accreditation” process. 

Even more to the point, that Board has demonstrated (and members have admitted [Sept. 21, 2016 video starting at 1:48]) that they don’t know how to fix awful schools such as those in Petersburg (and, of course, in Richmond).  So the labels they apply to failing schools provide bureaucratic camouflage: Those “Accredited with Conditions” schools and our Board of “Education,” can put on a happy face while they persist in failing to educate far too many children.