FHS Is Under Academic Review


Sophia Long

Students are busy working on assignments in Traci Mellor’s Academic Enrichment period.

Rumors about FHS not being accredited have been circulating around the school and community. In an effort to clear up the rumors and expose the truth, Principal Kraig Kelican was interviewed.

Academic accreditation is when the state recognizes the school as meeting the standards and having the proper qualifications to educate students. When this is lost, the school is recognized as unqualified.

Academic de-accreditation is when a school fails to meet certain standards set by the state in relation to student testing scores. When a school loses its accreditation, that causes long-term problems, like losing the validity of the diploma. The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) has specific criteria for schools in the state. Students who take the SOL need to be above a particular point in order to pass the class and satisfy the state’s standards. The VDOE not only looks at the student body as a whole, but they break down the population according to demographics, such as race and economic class. Those categories are called Gap Groups.

According to Kelican, “FHS meets that criteria in all categories, so we’re above that threshold for all students, and we’re fully accredited.” Despite being fully accredited, a school can still have issues in Gap Groups, and that is the issue FHS is dealing with. However, when one or more of the Gap Groups aren’t above 70 percent for more than three years, the school is put under academic review. Academic review is the stage before academic de-accreditation where the school is given the responsibility to address the issues and low scores. Kelican said, “Right now we are right on the bubble for English, and below in math for specific Gap Groups.” This means that the scores in English are right on the line for passing versus failing the standardized tests, and math is under the passing percentage. This doesn’t mean that FHS is not accredited anymore, but instead means there are some things the school needs to fix.

The state has put the school under academic review since FHS has two subjects that are below the standards. The VDOE wants to examine the general instructional program and observe how the school will be addressing the issues concerning accreditation. The VDOE expects a three-year plan to be implemented, and that is what the FHS administration is working on.

Changes are being made to remedy the issues seen in Gap Groups. “[FHS is] switching Biology and Earth Science, so that gives students a better opportunity to pass the Biology exam,” said Kelican. Biology will now be the freshman science and sophomores will take Earth Science. Another change that occurred this year was academic enrichment. The block of time was previously known as homeroom and it was first thing in the morning, but now, academic enrichment has been put in place between second and third blocks. Academic enrichment was implemented as an in-school remediation program to assist students who didn’t pass the SOLs and to provide an opportunity for other students to work on school work. Once the FHS administration develops a plan to help students and improve scores, Kelican will have to present the plan to the VDOE to see if it’s deemed acceptable.

FHS is not under a full school accreditation check, but instead, it’s a review on specific areas that need improvement and more attention. Even though FHS is under academic review, Kelican said, “it does not affect the class of 2023 or play any role in the awarding of diplomas.”