The School Board voted unanimously Feb. 8 to request the state Board of Education approve an alternative accreditation plan for W.O. Robey High School.
W.O. Robey opened last fall inside the Park View High School building in Sterling as a non-traditional high school to serve students with unusual circumstances such as parenting or working a job. Students may choose modified schedules, including morning and evening sessions. The school offers self-paced learning and a student-to-teacher ratio of 10-1.
The School Board held little discussion on the plan prior to the vote. Tom Marshall (Leesburg) praised the board and the division for establishing the school.
“I’m excited to know that we’re doing all we can to put all these kids who are in dire situations in many ways ahead of the game by providing a special type of education,” Marshall said.
Marshall had asked during the Jan. 25 meeting if students still had the opportunity to pursue a GED instead of attending the alternative school.
“The GED is not a route for every student to take and we want all of our students to graduate successfully from Loudoun County Public Schools,” Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Ashley Ellis said. “The alternative high school programs including the alternative high school at Robey are alternative options to make sure that we’re providing resources that they need to receive their high school diploma.”
Ellis said the Virginia Department of Education gave the division extensive feedback on the accreditation plan, which was originally developed last year with the guidance of Arlington County Public Schools, which has an existing alternative education program.
The state code allows school divisions to apply to alter standards for accreditation for alternative schools.
The plan includes modified attendance standards for students that will take into consideration “meaningful student engagement,” such as corresponding with teachers about absences, or completing coursework online. The modification stands to offer flexibility in what will be considered adequate attendance to account for real-world circumstances of the students.
The Virginia Department of Education also uses a college, career and civic readiness indicator that considers a student body’s advanced coursework, matriculation to post-secondary schools, or pursuing trades. The requested modifications for W.O. Robey include consideration of students’ employment or participation in a career preparation program.
Additionally, WorkKeys assessments could be used in the place of Standards of Learning Assessments. WorkKeys assessments draw upon students’ experience in the workforce, in areas such as technology, business writing, and graphic literacy.
The plan also calls for more lenience in consideration of dropout rates.