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SOL scores mixed in area

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

The Henry County and Martinsville school divisions saw some gains in pass and advanced pass rates on challenging math Standards of Learning tests first introduced in 2011-12, but, as expected, they saw declines in new reading, writing and science tests given in 2012-13, according to results of SOL tests taken in the last school year and released Tuesday.

Henry County Schools Superintendent Jared Cotton said “it’s really not appropriate” to compare the SOL pass and advanced pass rates for reading, writing and science tests in 2011-12 with 2012-13. The English and science tests students took during 2012-13 were the first to reflect the increased rigor of revised standards adopted by the Virginia Board of Education in 2010, a news release from the Virginia Department of Education states.

According to Cotton and the news release, the new reading, writing and science tests begin new trend lines.

“Students are now being challenged by the standards to achieve new levels of mastery at each grade level and to apply what they have learned on assessments that are very different from the traditional multiple-choice tests people often associate with the SOL program,” Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright stated in the release.

Martinsville City Schools Superintendent Pam Heath and Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Angilee Downing agreed that lower pass rates had been expected around the commonwealth on the English and science SOL tests. Downing said the tests involve more critical thinking and problem solving and are technology enhanced.

They said the division’s implementation, at all grade levels, of project-based learning this school year is a move in the right direction to address the areas of critical thinking and problem solving, among other things.

Officials from both divisions said they will be analyzing the SOL test data.

Cotton said officials in the county division will looking at the standards, the tests and even the question-by-question results in an effort to focus on specific skill areas to address in schools. The school division also will provide technical assistance from the central office throughout the school year to schools that need additional support in certain areas.

Also, the Henry County school division is implementing a new diagnostic assessment (Measures of Academic Progress) to help get a clearer picture on how well students are learning.

Cotton explained how the SOL scoring system works. Of all the students who take a particular SOL test, the pass rate indicates what percentage of students made a passing score of at least 400 out of a maximum 600 points, and an advanced passing rate is the percentage of students who took the SOL test who scored at least 500 points.

The following information comes from data on the Virginia Department of Education website:

Henry County

PASS RATES

From 2011-12 to 2012-13, pass rates declined in 23 of 32 test areas: reading, grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8; reading, end of course (that generally refers to high school courses); writing, grades 5 and 8; writing, end of course; civics and economics; U.S. History I and II; Virginia studies; World History II; mathematics, grade 5; Algebra I; science, grades 3, 5, 8; biology; chemistry; earth science.

From 2011-12 to 2012-13, pass rates increased in eight of 32 test areas: Virginia and U.S. history; World History I; math, grades 3, 4, 6 and 8; geometry; and Algebra II.

From 2011-12 to 2012-13, the pass rate remained the same for history, grade 3.

ADVANCED PASS RATES

From 2011-12 to 2012-13, advanced pass rates declined in 18 of 32 test areas: reading, grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8; reading, end of course; writing, end of course; civics and economics; U.S. History I and II; Virginia studies; science, grades 3, 5, 8; biology; chemistry; and earth science.

From 2011-12 to 2012-13, advanced pass rates increased in 13 of 32 test areas: writing, grades 5, 8; history, grade 3; Virginia and U.S. history, end of course; World History I and II; mathematics grades 4, 5, 6, 8; Algebra I and II; geometry;

From 2011-12 to 2012-13, the pass rate remained the same for mathematics, grade 3.

Martinsville

PASS RATES

From 2011-12 to 2012-13, pass rates declined in 23 of 31 test areas: reading, grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8; reading, end of course; writing, grades 5 and 8; writing, end of course; history, grade 3; civics and economics; U.S. History I; Virginia studies; World History II; mathematics, grades 3, 5; Algebra II; science, grades 3, 5, 8; biology; chemistry.

From 2011-12 to 2012-13, pass rates increased in six of 31 test areas: Virginia and U.S. history, end of course; World History I; mathematics, grade 6; Algebra I; geometry; earth science.

From 2011-12 to 2012-13, the pass rate remained the same for U.S. History II; and mathematics, grade 4.

ADVANCE PASS RATES

From 2011-12 to 2012-13, advanced pass rates declined in 22 of 31 test areas: reading, grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8; reading, end of course; writing, grade 5; writing, end of course; history, grade 3; civics and economics; U.S. History I; U.S. History II; Virginia studies; Virginia and U.S. history; World History II; mathematics, grade 5; Algebra II; science, grades 3, 5, 8; biology.

From 2011-12 to 2012-13, pass rates increased in six of 31 test areas: writing, grade 8; World History I; mathematics, grades 3, 4, 6; earth science.

From 2011-12 to 2012-13, the pass rate remained the same for Algebra I, geometry and chemistry.

•••••

According to a document from Henry County Public Schools, in the 2012-13 SOL test results, HCPS exceeds the commonwealth’s passing average on all elementary science, middle science and earth science Virginia SOL tests, and HCPS exceeds the state’s advanced pass rate on three of the new science tests (earth science, grade 3 science and grade 8 science). It also said HCPS exceeds the state passing average on Algebra II tests.

“This is in alignment with our increased focus on increasing the number of graduates who receive advanced studies diplomas,” it added.

It also stated that HCPS made gains on most mathematics tests: grades 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8; geometry; and Algebra II.

According to data on the Virginia Department of Education website, Martinsville City Schools’ pass rates fell below the commonwealth’s pass average in many subject areas.

 

 
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