Accreditation is the state’s required measure of how well a school or division performs. It's based largely on student achievement on the state's English, math, science and history
In middle and high schools, at least 70 percent of students must pass the SOL tests.
In elementary school, 75 percent of students must pass reading tests in the third, fourth and fifth grades; 70 percent in math and fifth-grade science and history; and 50 percent in third-grade science and history.
The state uses an average of three consecutive years of pass rates, called a rolling average, when calculating the accreditation pass rates. That is why many schools and divisions with pass rates of less than 70 percent on the 2011-12 SOL math tests, which were new, still hit the accreditation target pass rate.
The graduation index counts students who earn diplomas, general education development or GED certificates, or are enrolled in a fifth year of high school. In 2011-12, 86 percent of the state's high schools were accredited, down from 99 percent the prior year. The difference was the introduction of the graduation index.