Williamsburg schools rated ‘effective’

Williamsburg is hoping to overcome the final hurdles and achieve a state rating of excellent next year, after coming in just shy of the district rating this year. The district currently rates effective, according to the state school district report card, but is well within reach of moving up to the next level on this year’s tests.

“There are three indicators on which we didn’t meet the state standards,” said Williamsburg Superintendent Jeff Weir. “One is graduation rate, and the other two are math, fifth and sixth grade. I’m new here, but I know that we’ve always done well on our fourth grade indicators. That used to be one of the key areas before they began to stagger the test. We’ve not achieved this kind of success in the middle school level. We really made progress there, and the high school has always been a strong performer.”

Williamsburg has enjoyed a number of years at the state’s second highest level, but such was not always the case. Weir said that the school began life under the new rating system in one of the lowest ratings possible, but managed to work out of it and onward up the ladder.

“This is our fourth consecutive year (as effective),” said Weir. “The district has been below that, but never above. In the history of the district, this is the 10th year the schools received a categorization. Williamsburg was in academic watch during the first four years of the accountability measures, then improved to academic improvement. We dropped back into academic watch and then from that point on we’ve been rated effective.”

To be rated excellent, a district must pass 24 of 25 indicators or score at least 100 on a performance index of all district students. Weir currently has 22 indicators and a 98.2 score on the performance index. While the district didn’t pass some math indicators, they did manage to achieve on the seventh grade math test, which was especially challenging on this report card cycle. Weir said that the district performed very well versus other districts in the county.

“There are several areas where we performed strongly relative to the other districts in the county,” said Weir. “There were a few areas where we need to focus, and we have measures in place to address that and improve our report card performance.”

While each building in a district also receives their own rating, Weir said that he has yet to look at that information, preferring instead to focus on the district as a whole.

“I haven’t even looked at the building performance, around here we’re taking it one for all and all for one,” said Weir. “We’re looking at getting the job done collectively. The bottom line is, in the elementary we missed one point, and in the middle and high, two points. Middle and high is all lumped together. We’re just focused on getting the job done together.”

While the effective rating is a good one, Weir said that they won’t let too much satisfaction slow them down when it comes to achieving a higher status.

“We know we’re moving in the right direction, and we’re pleased to attain effective status for four years in a row,” said Weir. “But, we are not content to look at the progress we’ve made and the achievement we’ve sustained and say we’re where we want to be. We know that excellence is attainable, and that’s what we want to do. We want to earn that.”