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Grades would range from A through D for local schools

Published 11:18am Wednesday, February 6, 2013

FRANKLIN—Under proposed state legislation that would grade public schools on an A-F scale, Franklin High School and S.P. Morton Elementary School would receive “C’s,” according to the state Department of Education.

Franklin’s Joseph P. King Middle School would get a “D.”

The letter grades don’t surprise Franklin School Board Chairwoman Edna King, who has no problem with the legislation the House approved 54-40 on Tuesday.

Franklin Superintendent Dr. Michelle Belle disagrees with the bill, which is on its way to the Senate.

J.P. King has been designated among the lowest-performing five percent of schools in Virginia for reading and math. The school is working with state-approved partners to meet state and federal requirements.

S.P. Morton was among the lowest 10 percent for reading. Franklin High Schools also fell short of federal standards in reading and math.

King expects improvement and believes a grading scale can put things into perspective.

“We are making progress,” she said. “I’m very optimistic that by the end of the year, whatever the Department of Education uses, this grade will come up. There will be a change.”

Belle believes the accreditation system has flaws, which are being worked on toward improvement.

“This is just something that came up all of a sudden and it blind-sided us,” she said about the legislation. “I’m not in agreement with it.”

“We are going to see more growth as we try to fix things,” Belle added. “It will just take us a little longer to get there.”

The school board recently contracted with Edison Learning of Chicago to help bring J.P. King up to required standards.

The State Department of Education has assigned Milton Liverman, a former superintendent of Suffolk Public Schools, to serve as the school district’s liaison and focus coach to help with improving the reading scores. Federal dollars will pay for Liverman’s contract.

Isle of Wight County Schools

In Isle of Wight County, Carrsville and Windsor Elementary schools and Windsor Middle School would receive “A’s” and Windsor High School, a “B.”

Laura Abel, assistant superintendent for instruction and curriculum in IOW schools, said the district is always supportive of ways to better inform parents and community members about the instructional programs offered.

“The A-F grading system could serve as a quick tool for folks to use to evaluate a school, however, we are concerned that a letter grade in isolation may provide an incomplete and misleading picture of what is really going on in a school and the division,” Abel said. “Without really having a true in-depth understanding of the criteria that is being used to assign the letter grades, there is an unfortunate possibility that wrong assumptions can be made about students and staff who attend and work in that school.”

Southampton County Public Schools

In Southampton County, receiving “A’s” would be Capron, Meherrin and Nottoway elementary schools; “B’s,” Southampton High and Middle schools; and a “C,” Riverdale Elementary School. Riverdale is accredited with a warning.

Superintendent Dr. Alvera Parrish did not return a phone call.

  • papergrl

    Maybe the principal at Riverdale Elementary should focus a little more on his school’s performance in bringing it up to par and spend a little less time screwing around with students’ parents.

    Dr. Parrish should be tuned in more to her school system instead of making all of these public appearances and hosting parties to get her name in the paper.

    Furthermore, I find it hard to believe that the other elementary schools in SCPS have an “A” grade considering the statistical demographics and the principals in charge of them. I would be willing to bet that if one were to do a little investigating, one would find that those scores have been doctored.

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    • Natalya

      How exactly have they been doctored since that is a fairly serious accusation?

      Anyways I will agree that Dr. Parrish is not interested in truly focusing on raising the bar for education and hopefully her reign will be short lived.

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  • sugabritches

    Well, SCPS, I guess Riverdale is not the “crown jewel” of Southampton County after all. AMAZING how so many teachers fight to be transferred there, so many parents push to live in the districted area, so much PTA money is raised to support the educational program, so many grant funded programs are provided to the students b/c the school does not qualify for Title I funds, so much innovation occurs there, so wonderful is the working environment…YET, the proposed grade for the school would be a C. Hmmmmm, interesting, isn’t it, Dr. Parrish?

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  • amysuite14

    What a waste of taxpayer money. Didn’t the SOL findings tell us this.

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  • momto2Js

    Glad to see Southampton schools are doing so well. How come the article didn’t report on all Isle of Wight schools? What about Smithfield?

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  • simplifyingit

    All three Franklin schools are accredited with warnings for student performance that’s below standards. Riverdale is on warning from state yet all these schools would still hold a “D” or “C” with the new system?? Doesn’t seem right to me. Maybe this new grading system for the schools is a “lowering of the standards” initiated only to improve schools rankings on paper?? What would constitute a failure by the school with this new system, a graduation rate of 2% or less? I would rather the children be “challenged” to improve rather than the schools dropping its standards to appease politicians. I could have been an honor student with these low standards!! Come on man!!!!

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    • momof2

      Well, let’s see. If a D constitutes Accredited with Warning then I guess an F would constitute a school that is not accredited and not meeting any standards. Accredited with Warning means that the school is not failing in all standards. F stands for failure in all areas. Just saying!

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