August 21, 2008

Montgomery Co. Schools All Earn Accreditation

By Anna L. Mallory [email protected] 381-8627

Each of Montgomery County's schools will be accredited, according to preliminary Standards of Learning test results handed to school board members Tuesday, although whether each school will make the federal government's benchmarks for "adequate yearly progress" is still in the air.

This is the first time all the county's schools have been accredited. The state hands out five different accreditation ratings based on how well students perform on the Standards of Learning exams. If schools are not accredited, it can result in corrective action from the state.

According to the Virginia Department of Education, schools are fully accredited if students pass four core subject areas -- English, math, history and science. The pass rate varies by subject and grade level. In most cases it is 70 percent. In third grade, the first to be tested, the pass rate is 50 percent in history and science and 75 percent in English. Through fifth grade, 75 percent of students must pass in English.

In total in the county, 86 percent of students passed English exams, 82 percent passed math and 85 percent science.

In the 2006-07 school year, both Christiansburg and Shawsville middle schools failed to meet the accreditation standards.

This past year, 77 percent of Shawsville's students passed the English exams and 78.6 percent passed math. History and science scores were at 82 percent. At Christiansburg Middle, 83 percent of students passed math, with 80 percent passing English. In history and science, 79 percent passed.

Superintendent Tiffany Anderson points to increased math instruction and an overall attitude shift as two reasons for the improved scores.

Complete county AYP scores, the federal government's benchmark based on how well schools improve compared to prior years, should be released next week.

Reading, writing help available to parents

A Blacksburg woman is offering reading services to parents and other residents who might have trouble completing the slew of paperwork that comes home with students at the beginning of the school year.

Devawn Oberlender works through a joint grant with the U.S. Department of Education and the town of Blacksburg to help residents who cannot read to write and read.

"My job is to read what needs to be read and to write what needs to be written," she said. "It's hard because it's hard for people to admit to anyone that they can't really read."

To fulfill the requirements of her job, which is through the New River Valley Literacy Volunteers, Oberlender must help 200 Blacksburg residents.

People who need help have to provide proof they are residents of the town.

"I know that those people are here, and I just need to get to them," she said.

Oberlender is based out of the Lantern Ridge housing complex but is willing to go wherever she is needed as long as it is in town.

She can be reached at 357-3314.

Anna L. Mallory covers events and issues affecting Montgomery County schools and beyond. If you have information you'd like featured, e-mail [email protected] You also can visit Chalk Dust, the New River Valley's education news source, at

(c) 2008 Roanoke Times & World News. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.