West Central Primary did not get a score because it is a new school, formed when Cunningham and Columbia primary schools closed in May.

“I am pleased with the work our staff has done to help address areas of concern,” Keller said. “They continue to refine their classroom instruction to meet the needs of all our students. With a continued focus on providing each child with a quality education, I’m sure we will surpass these benchmarks.”

Throughout the state, 77 percent of schools were fully accredited, down from 93 percent the year before. The decrease was due to more rigorous reading, writing, science and math Standards of Learning, according to a  press release..

Fluvanna Middle School met the benchmark in every subject except math. That was the reason for the status of “Accredited with Warning in Mathematics.”

The School Board hired Yardley Farquharson PhD. as the new middle school principal. After a rough first day when some parents felt Farquharson came across too harshly, things have settled down.

“Specific to the middle school, with Dr. Farquharson’s leadership and the competent staff there, I have no doubt that we will quickly move to being fully accredited,” Keller said.

Schools are highly regulated throughout the Commonwealth and are subject to many unfunded mandates voted on by legislators. Those are rules or benchmarks that must be followed or met without any state money budgeted to achieve those goals.

Keller said teachers throughout the state struggle to meet the constantly changing expectations.

“Educators across Virginia are working hard to meet a ‘moving target’ as rigor increases in the curriculum and in the standardized testing given to our students,” she said. “It is the day-to-day work that matters – assuring that our curriculum is aligned, using assessments to inform us, nurturing and nudging our students to think deeply, to be engaged, set goals and meet them. For now we will continue to provide focused, customized instruction across our school division – that is the only way we will see all students meet the goals that have been outlined by our state Department of Education.”

Keller pointed out that for the first time in six years Fluvanna third and fourth graders met every annual measurable objective (AMO).

But then the state Department of Education moved the bar. The DOE introduced a component it refers to as “meets higher expectations” requiring a school to maintain the schools’ passing rate within 5 percent. That new requirement – introduced after instruction was over for the year and tests were taken – meant Carysbrook Elementary did not meet that particular benchmark, Keller said.

“It was a true ‘gotcha’ for my staff and our school system,” Keller said. “I wasn’t necessarily intended to be so, but it sure felt like it. We quickly appealed this decision, however, our appeal was denied.”

Keller said it’s important for everyone to understand teachers work to make sure all students learn.

“Our community needs to know that we scrutinize the data and are aware that there are students who are not making the gains they need to make – we will change what we do to meet their needs,” she said. “We will provide differentiated instruction and work hard to assure that all students make gains.”

Test scores and benchmarks don’t tell the whole story, Keller said.

“It is extremely frustrating, sometimes unsettling, to see my staff work so hard with a genuine dedication for our students and then see results that become the essence of who we are and what we have accomplished,” she said. “We don’t shy away from rigor nor will we shy away from the results, however, I often remind my staff that the SOLs are a very, very important measure of our work, but they are only one measure. We will meet those marks. I know that we will. However, again, it is only one piece of the data that reflects how well we educate our children in Fluvanna. We have many, many more success stories that have nothing to do with one score. “

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