Hanover’s schools received full accreditation by the Virginia Department of Education Sept. 20.
In order for a school system to be accredited, 70 percents of its students must pass both the reading and writing SOL tests and 70 percent must pass the math, science and history SOLs as well.
“Our focus and direction is unwavering,” said Dr. Jamelle Wilson, superintendent of schools.
Wilson attributes the system’s continuing success to the teachers for knowing the necessary content but also because they have established and built relationships with students.
But Wilson said it is also important to know that there is always room for improvement.
Elmont Elementary was recently named one of 27 “improving Focus schools” by the Virginia Department of Education. Under that designation, a school must hire a coach to help improve the school’s scores and academic status.
“We are wrapping around the school and its staff to give them space to think about what’s best for the kids,” Wilson said. “It has helped tremendously.”
Despite some challenges, Hanover schools have managed to maintain their status.
Some School Board members weighed in on the success.
“I think the outstanding scores for Hanover County are due to the efforts of commitments of the students, teachers, parents and administrators,” said Norman Sulser, Cold Harbor District member, in a statement given to members of the press.
But Hanover schools have not always excelled. When the accreditation standards first came out, the district faced some challenges. Wilson said many teachers and school officials were trying to understand the assessments. Teachers constantly have to adapt to different standards and alter their lesson plans to fit the tests.
More recently, because the tests are now completely online, teachers have had to adjust to the new format.
Hanover schools have been able to stay afloat because of teacher collaboration. Wilson said that teachers often attend committees directly involved with assessment development and the process such as the standard setting committees.
“Folks embrace opportunities to lean from others,” Wilson said.