East Rock, Spotswood named among state’s top schools

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HARRISONBURG — Three Valley schools have been named among the state’s best alongside almost 390 of their peers.

East Rockingham, Spotswood and Central high schools received the 2017 Virginia Board of Education Distinguished Achievement Award.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced the award’s 246 winning schools and school divisions on Aug. 8. The distinction is one of three honors that are part of the Virginia Index of Performance program.

The Virginia Department of Education chose the winners according to their Standards of Learning exam pass rates during the 201516 school year. The VDOE also considered graduation rates for that year.

The three schools had pass rates on the four SOL tests — English, math, history and science — ranging from 88 percent to 96 percent, according to VDOE data.

The SOL is the state standardized test that measures student proficiency in the four core subjects.

East Rockingham and Spotswood had graduation rates of 96 percent that year, while 95 percent of Central’s students graduated, according to the VDOE.

This year’s awards mark Central’s second, Spotswood’s third and East Rockingham’s fourth consecutive wins in the category.

Spotswood Principal Robert Dansey credited a schoolwide effort for this year’s win.

“We have a wonderful group of staff members and families who give kids a chance to be successful,” he said on Monday. “I’m proud of our kids.”

The award announcements came during the second day of classes at Central High in Woodstock, which Principal Melissa Hensley called “a great way to start the year.”

Neither Dansey nor Hensley plan for their schools to rest on their laurels, instead continuing to develop problem- based learning models in all classes.

Dansey wants to incorporate technology into the curriculum as part of Rockingham

County Public Schools’ digital conversion program. Hensley credited a lack of “teaching to the test” as part of the reason why Central is an award-winning school.

“We have an inquiry-based model of teaching, critical thinking and problem solving,” she said. “The scores are just falling in place behind that.” Calls to East Rockingham Principal Eric Baylor were not returned on Monday.

The Distinguished Achievement Award ranks third among the three VIP awards. An additional 146 schools and two divisions won the second-highest distinction, the Board of Education Excellence Award.

Nine schools won the top honor of the Governor’s

Award for Educational Excellence. In all, 386 schools, or 21 percent of the state’s 1,828 public schools, received a VIP award.

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