School Accreditation Process Violates State Law

Some unfortunate Virginia Department of Education administrator will be tasked with the job of poring through the public responses to proposed rules for granting and denying public-school accreditation. I would pay good money to watch his hair catch on fire when he reads the comments submitted by John Butcher, author of Cranky’s Blog. Here’s how John summarizes the accreditation process:

“VA. Code § 22.1-253.13:3.A provides:

“[The Boar of Education’s] regulations establishing standards for accreditation shall ensure that the accreditation process is transparent and based on objective measurements. …

“The current accreditation process is in wholesale violation of that law:

  • The Board increases pass rates at some high schools based on the performance of students who do not attend those schools;
  • The Board fails to adjust accreditation scores for a major factor known to affect test scores, poverty, and the Board has abandoned its measure of academic progress, the Student Growth Percentile, that is not affected by poverty;
  • The Board’s indifference to misclassification of students as “disabled” and the abuse of relaxed testing procedures for those students continues; and
  • The Board’s opaque and byzantine ‘adjustments’ increase accreditation.”

Read the short version of his comments here. Or read the full and unadulterated version here.

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7 responses to “School Accreditation Process Violates State Law”

  1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    God Bless Cranky’s Blog – Virginia needs many more outsiders like John Butcher who throw light out into the darkness, exposing truth that others try to hide.

    Thus now:

    It appears that the Virginia Department of Education and those who “run it” are busy running away from their sacred mission to educate kids. And instead are poster children for today’s common malady, severe dysfunction of public institutions.

    Here’s I revise earlier comments today’s public servants dysfunction:

    Public servants of all sorts today now too often get a free ride for misconduct. This includes simple but chronic incompetence. And/or gross incompetence. And/or malfeasance, incl. chronic fraud and reckless wastage.

    This severe dysfunction often occurs by reason of chronic and habitual acts. These include simple Lethargy On the Job, or cowardice, or refusal to face real problems, all of which irresponsible activities too often require the public servant to hide problems he should be dealing with, but refuse to, by instead creating piles of false problems, false solutions and outright lies.


    Many public servants when confronted with real problems, and the truths that drive those problems, simply refuse to address them by losing all serious interest in, or motivation to do, a good, honest and serious job. Or to do any job at all, if only by reason that no one in authority requires such standards, or has the practical means to do so.

    AND In truth THINGS get so bad, that most leaders don’t want the authority, or will not exercise it if they had the authority. Why? Because they would meet entrenched resistance within their community or organization that would then threaten their status, the perks that go with their position, and become outsiders to the system.

    All of this soft corruption is most always the rule rather than the exception. It is the great plague of collective responsibility, where each person hides within, or behind the group, protection it, instead of the generations of kids whose futures are being destroyed by reason of the groups inaction.

    Indeed often such a states of affairs has been going on for so long that many public employees have lost the skills and motivation to work effectively. And why not? No one is held accountable. So nobody pays any price except the public that foots the bill and gets wastage and harm in return. And those who are derelict in their duty get to keep their lives in high cotton while the children they fail continue to be cheated of the education they deserve.

    How many generations have we destroyed to date this way? How many more kids are we to feed into the fires of illiteracy – cultural, educational, and otherwise – before serious leaders risk their status and reputations to solve these problems? Why does it always have to be outsiders like Cranky instead (people who have the integrity to find and speak the truth, but lack the institutional stranding and power to act effectively to force solutions?

    Why on the other hand do these peoples’ bosses, whether they be the public who elected them, or those public servants who hire and employ them, simple look the other way? Has our culture and institutions now in many places reached such a low point of nearly irretrievable gross ineffectiveness. Places so corrupt and with standards of behavior and expectations so low, that those who should fix the misbehavior cannot even see the behavior as bad behavior, or work to prevent solutions. Or because such others in authority are doing the same kinds of things themselves or be indifferent to such problems given their own passivity or dependency or lack of effective tools or outside motivation. Or alternatively, because those in power have a special self-interest in continuing the status quo. Or because of the penalties others within, or outside, the systems will impose on reformers if they act property to reform. Or perhaps all these would be leaders have given up themselves – even to the point that they couldn’t care less themselves – if only because the “system” couldn’t care less, or the “system” demands the all involved in the institutional game play along with the corruption or be punished and thrown out of the game if they try to fix the system.

    So these corrupt games spending vast sums of public monies that deepen the problems instead of solving them keep going round and round endlessly.

    This too helps explain why the only way a person, absent murder, can get in trouble these days is by uttering words that for whatever cause, or for no intelligible cause at all, jangle the emotions or corrupt self interests of certain other self identified kinds of fellow citizens. These cheap exercises of grievance politics keeps the money coming making money for those who keep the dysfunctional system running, while it keeps harming kids.

  2. LarrytheG Avatar

    The problem with Cranky is he’s all blow… and no show.

    Anyone can lay down for any organization – public or private a list of their shortcomings…

    you can do that with DMV… or VDOT.. or WalMart or Cable TV companies.

    It’s not like a majority of schools in Virginia failed to meet academic standards… in fact, a huge percentage met the standards without “fudging” so what is the proper and fair assessment?

    Again – let’s go back to Henrico in Jim’s own County:

    Henrico County Elko Middle Accreditation Denied
    Henrico County Glen Lea Elementary Accreditation Denied
    Henrico County Harold Macon Ratcliffe Elementary Accreditation Denied
    Henrico County L. Douglas Wilder Middle Accreditation Denied
    Henrico County Laburnum Elementary Accreditation Denied
    Henrico County Anthony P. Mehfoud Elementary To Be Determined
    Henrico County Brookland Middle To Be Determined
    Henrico County Fair Oaks Elementary To Be Determined
    Henrico County Fairfield Middle To Be Determined
    Henrico County Highland Springs Elementary To Be Determined
    Henrico County John Rolfe Middle To Be Determined
    Henrico County Montrose Elementary To Be Determined
    Henrico County Varina Elementary To Be Determined

    where TBD is a status that says they failed to meet accreditation benchmarks but they may be allowed a status other than “denied”.

    Should we condemn Henrico County schools as “breaking the law” or this:

    ” … entrenched resistance within the community or organization that would then threatens their status, the perks that go with their position, and become outsiders to the system. All of this soft corruption is most always the rule rather than the exception.”

    There are 79 schools in Henrico – 13 have problems… 66 met the standards.

    How should we view this? As a “failure” of the School System – the Administrators and the principals and teachers of the “failed” schools?

    What exactly is Cranky’s point as applied to Henrico? What ‘s his assessment of Henrico? Is Henrico “‘breaking the law”?

    More importantly – what does Cranky think should be done about the “failed” Henrico schools.. should everyone from Administrators down – be fired?


    this is the problem I have with folks like Cranky…

    I can easily get on board with the criticism.. as long as we have a better way forward… otherwise.. what’s the real point?

  3. I agree with all three of you: it’s about accountability. Whether the problem is failure to adhere to the statutory criteria for determining loss of accreditation, or failure to do anything about loss of accreditation, it’s about accountability. What is the point of having accreditation standards, of measuring accreditation transparently, of knowing what schools failed to be accredited, if nothing happens? Families are assigned to neighborhood schools geographically with no practical alternative available for most parents; they cannot vote even with their feet to correct this slipshod abuse of the State’s effective monopoly over secondary education. Of course we need “a better way forward.”

    1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      The great tragedy is that serious people in the field have worked out solutions to these problems hundreds, if not thousands, of times in alternative schools across the nation, and likely some public schools as well in places like New Orleans, for example.

      Even here, on this blog over the years, we have discussed these success stories in detail based on bloggers real life experiences with these success stories, including mine. The problem lies not in our lack of solutions, but in our failure or refusal to implement those solutions.

      Making matters worse is the fact that government entities responsible for certifying competence of these schools would so cravenly play these corrupt and grossly dishonest games. This should be a national scandal. Instead, for much of our country’s governing authorities it is business as usual, while we go about tearing down historic monuments, shouting vulgarities, and accusing everyone within shouting distance of racism, sexism, gender-ism or whatever.

      What do you think is going on here? And for how long? And why? The why includes “why can’t we do what we know needs to be done, but are incompetent or unwilling or to cowardly to execute?

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        I’m not hearing that many honest validated “success” stories to be honest.. where there actually is a comparable level of accountability for the “alternatives”. I hear lots of “they did good” but not a heck of a lot of ” yeah…they beat the public schools”… nope… they’re just “better”… no metrics needed… by definition they’re not govt therefor they are better and no we don’t need to measure it.

        I’d be fine if Henrico wanted to turn over their failing schools to alternative schools – as long as we kept equivalent levels of transparency and accountability.

        That’s where Cranky and like-minded critics seem to go off the rails..
        they’re using the Government’s own rules for transparency and accountability to impugn the schools… but challenge them to use that same level of accountability for the ‘alternatives’ and we hear crickets.

        And nevermind that Henrico has over 66 successful schools that have met and exceeded the SOLs… nope… no credit there… it’s the 13 that failed that prove that .. government sucks… , Administrators are lying SOBs…public schools fail… and balderdash out the wazoooooo….

  4. LarrytheG Avatar

    Well.. if you look at the consequences of not meeting accreditation.. it’s pretty significant… often the Principal and other leadership at the that school is replaced.

    but the bigger problem – the 600lb gorilla in the room , especially in places like Henrico is.. does replacing the principle and others really fix the problem if the problem is the school is serving a neighborhood of poverty demographics.. with all the attendant problems that typically inherent in those demographics.

    That’s why I ask … should the administration itself be held “accountable”also?

    You have an Administration in Henrico that is successful with 66 out of 79 schools. What does that say about the administration? Is the administration responsible for the staffing at the 13 schools that fail?

    If they replace the staff at those 13 schools.. and they still fail.. who is accountable? How do you expect to get those 13 schools to not fail if you’re replaced the staff and they still fail?

    In terms of a better way forward… I’m totally on board with non-public alternatives… as long as we also hold them equally accountable.

  5. The first link doesn’t work.

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