Bristol, Virginia Public Schools failed to reach full accreditation; now looking to rebound


BRISTOL, VA - The Bristol, Virginia school system, the Lee County school system and the Buchanan County school system failed to make full accreditation in the 2016-2017 school year.

In Bristol, three of the four public elementary schools reached the top status. However, Highland View Elementary School did not. Instead, it fell into a focus group with other schools in the bottom 10% in certain test scores.

"We did have some growth last year," Keith Perrigan, the system's superintendent, says. "We just didn't have enough growth to get us to a point where we can come out of focus."

The scores are graded on a three year average. Right now, Highland View Elementary meets the state's benchmark in math. However, the scores in history fall just short, and are even further off in English. School officials say getting back to its 2014 status of full accreditation will take a team effort.

"It takes it takes a great principle it takes great teachers it take students who are willing to work and willing to learn and it takes parents who support," Perrigan says.

Educators at Highland View Elementary are now tweaking their teaching methods to raise those test scores.

"We've developed a testing process that aligns with what we're doing in progress monitoring to benchmarking to standardized test data so everything is seamless," Pam Davis, the principal of Highland View, says. "We do this so we're not hit with any surprises throughout the school year."

Ashley Kudela is the mother of two students at the school. She says she's thrilled with her children's education experience, despite the school's lack of accreditation.

"Highland View focuses on more than just making a test takers," she says. "They make sure they're providing kids with all the things that might not be met somewhere else."

This isn't unprecedented territory for the Bristol, Virginia school system. Two years ago, Washington Lee Elementary School fell into the focus category. Now, they're back to operating as a fully accredited school.

"What we found made the biggest difference was the culture change, the things we put in place, the relationships we built," Faith Mabe, the principal at Washington Lee Elementary, says. "We couldn't get to the academics until we had those big pieces in place."

It's that type of connection that school officials believe are crucial to student growth.

"No significant learning can happen could happen without a significant relationship," Perrigan says.

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