Bland County High School snagged an honor in June with the Virginia Department of Education.

BCHS was among 183 Virginia schools recognized with a Continuous Improvement Award under the VDOE’s Exemplar Performance School Recognition Program. The award recognizes schools that saw improvement to test scores, decreases in absenteeism and dropout rates and increases to graduation rates for the 2017-18 school year.

“I congratulate the principals, teachers, support staff and students of all of these schools for their academic successes and hard work these awards represent,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane.

Bland County Schools Superintendent Scott Meade said the school system was honored to have Lane visit BCHS earlier this year.

“We were lucky enough to have him visit us and now we get this from him,” Meade said. “It’s a huge honor. We’re a very small school system and it takes all of our children to achieve to get to where we need to be.”

The certificate was presented at the June 25 school board meeting.

The Continuous Improvement Award is heavily based on SOL test scores. While student performance at the high school fell slightly in math for the 2017-18 school year, it rose in other areas. The school saw a 90 percent pass rate in reading, 77 percent in writing, 79 percent in math, 88 percent in science and 92 percent in history.

Meade said educators and students had been working to improve those scores and he expects to see further improvement from the 2018-19 school year.

“This is a team effort,” he said. “This doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of hard work and planning and it takes a lot of buy in from all stakeholders.”

Meade credits an individualized learning approach for the success.

“We look at each child and work on their student achievements and I think that’s why we’re successful.”

He noted the tremendous support from the community.

“Not only are the students and staff, but our community is proud of the high school. I think we have a good future here in bland and we’re looking forward to it.”

The criteria for the awards was designed to complement the recently revised accreditation standards and to help focus resources where they are needed most, said Board of Education President Daniel Gecker.

“The awards recognize schools that are exceeding state accreditation standards and schools that are making continuous improvement in improving outcomes for students and in narrowing achievement gaps.”

The VDOE also announced a new recognition to be awarded next spring. The department will begin accepting applications for its Board of Education Innovative Practice Award this fall. The awards will recognize innovative practices implemented for at least two full academic years in areas of instruction, administration, technology, family and student health, learning environment and teacher retention.

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