Thu09182014

Last updateThu, 19 Nov 2015 8pm

   20140901MetroCastweb

Lower SOL’s blamed on higher state standards

Schools across the state are showing declined pass rates, according to a press release form the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).

Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia Wright predicts that pass rates will improve as teachers and students become better acquainted with the new standards and assessments.


Wright said in the press release that, “Temporary declines in scores, and pass rates on state tests are inevitable whenever academic standards are raised.” Wright said that the lower scores and pass rates are not due to students learning less, but to the state demanding students be better prepared for college and the workforce.

The new Standards of Learning (SOL) tests for English and Science allow for retesting this year, and the code of Virginia allows the Board of Education to adopt special remediation programs related to the use of any SOL test(s) in the calculation of accreditation ratings for any period during which the locality is revising or phasing in the new standards or assessments. If a student fails a high-school-level Reading or Mathematics test, and successfully retests during the same school year, the result of the first test is not included in the school system’s accountability calculations. This assists schools in maintaining their accountability ratings/accreditations.

The VDOE has provided over 27 helpful tools, resources and learning opportunities for teachers, instructional leaders and students to help meet the new SOL standards.

Colonial Beach Superintendent Kathleen Beane informed the school board that the average scores across the state dropped from 7 to 10 percent over last year’s in Reading, and were 20 percent lower in Writing. Beane reminded the board that Writing tests were previously by pen and paper, and this year are all done online.

In comparison, starting with Third-Grade SOL’s, Reading and Science had significant drops in scores, due to new testing in both of these subjects. However, the new Math testing began last year, with SOL scores of 31, and this year’s scores were 61, showing a jump by 30 points. Beane said that they haven’t reached the benchmark (70), but they are a whole lot closer.

Fourth-Grade Reading scores dropped as well, from 93 to 51, but the Fourth-Grade Math scores, which were expected to rise, dropped from 66 to 51.

Beane explained that the new Math tests require including multi-step problems. If the student does not finish the problem, or gets the final answer wrong, the entire question is counted as wrong, making it more difficult to pass.

Fifth-Grade Reading and Writing dropped also, but Math stayed level, with a score of 59 during the new test last year, and only gained a point this year, ending with 60.

Sixth-Grade Reading dropped from 91 to 73, but this grade improved significantly in Math, going from a 43 last year to 75, surpassing the benchmark of 70.

Seventh-Grade SOLs also left puzzling results with a drop in Reading from 93 to 72, but Math, which was expected to rise, actually fell from 46 last year during the new test, to 28 this year.

High School SOL scores performed erratically, as well.

The Eighth-Grade scores in Reading fell from 94 last year, to 65 when the new test was introduced. Writing, which held a perfect score last year of 100, fell to 76 with the new test. Math, which had a 52 during the transition last year, did not improve as expected, but actually fell significantly by 20 points, ending in 32 this year. Science scores for last year were at 95, but this year’s new test brought the score down to 63. History, which testing had not changed last year or this year, jumped by a small margin, from 92 to 96.

Writing EOC (end of course) fell from 95 to 83 due to the new test this year, but still came out over the state benchmark of 70. Reading EOC dropped only eight points from 88 to 80, again due to the new test this year. However, Reading EOC was still above the benchmark of 70.

Algebra I, II and Geometry all introduced the new tests last year. Algebra I jumped from 57 to 67, Algebra II went from 44 to 79, and Geometry rose from 58 to 76.

Biology, Chemistry and Earth Science all went to new testing this year. Both Biology and Earth Science dropped. Biology and Earth Science took a small drop from 91 to 68 in Biology, and from 95 to 76 in Earth Science.

Chemistry took a big dive from 100 percent last year to 35, when the new test was introduced. Beane reported that the Chemistry teacher last year was new, and quit after just one month. The school could only find a substitute to teach the class in September and throughout the year. The class was also very small.
VA/US History test scores dipped from 91 to 77, World History actually jumped from 83 to 97, and World History I fell from 84 to 74.

Beane told the board that she was informed at a recent conference that the tests are very technology-intense, making them very difficult.

Only time will tell if scores will even out and perform as expected, or continue to be erratic.

 

Linda Farneth

201407chamber

 

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