- Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 September 2013 13:28
- Published on Wednesday, 04 September 2013 13:26
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Standards of Learning (SOLs) pass rate scores were released late last month by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), but results are yet to be specifically explained for the King George division and all other school divisions across the state.
That’s because divisions are all awaiting state accreditation and federal accountability reports, expected to be issued later this month, along with updated school and division report cards.
The federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) continues to require states to establish Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) for raising overall reading and mathematics achievement and the achievement of student subgroups.
The analysis of last year’s SOL test results will take into account flexibility waivers granted in March by the feds as requested by Virginia.
Those waivers have allowed the state to establish new AMOs that are designed to reduce proficiency gaps between students in high-performing and low-performing schools within six years.
While the state no longer issues Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) ratings, it does report on the performance of schools and student subgroups in meeting the AMOs.
All schools must develop and implement improvement plans to raise the achievement of student subgroups not meeting annual objectives.
SOL TESTS REVISED
The bulk of the SOL tests were substantially revised by the state within the last three years, which continues to have an effect on student results.
That’s because not only do the new tests require curriculum realignment, but they also require continuous attempts to ensure that students are familiarized with the types of questions and the types of answers expected during the actual testing periods, as well as how to answer them. Not all test questions require selection of multiple choice answers, but some instead require students to write out answers.
WRIGHT ON IMPACT OF NEW TESTS
In the Aug. 20 release of broad raw results, while touting gains in state averages for all math SOLS, Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright also warned of the potential effect of accreditation ratings yet to come.
“Even with three-year averaging mitigating the impact of the new tests, we will see some schools slip from Fully Accredited to Accredited with Warning,” Wright predicted.
She added, “I hope parents will view these accreditation changes in the context of the state raising standards so that their children - regardless of where they live - will be better prepared for the challenges of postsecondary education and the realities of global competition.”
She also said that the VDOE will continue to provide training and resources related to the revised standards and assessments in all content areas, including email alerts directly to teachers about what’s available from the state.
HILL DISCUSSES BENCHMARKS
At last week’s meeting of the School Board on Aug. 26, Kristine Hill, division coordinator of curriculum & instruction, provided a presentation that spoke in broad terms about the instructional focus for the new school year.
Hill said some benchmarks have changed, noting, “Sometimes we have had to go realign our benchmarks due to changes in the SOLs.”
About the benchmarks, she said, “We have developed our own benchmarks. No one has given them to us.”
She also said that the benchmark tests used are only one of the ways that students are evaluated. She added, “We continually have to spiral back and re-teach what we think we have already taught.”
In comparison with King George pass rates for the 2011-12 year, some pass rates have gone up and some have gone down, likely due to different and more rigorous SOL tests.
Notwithstanding the effect of the focus on aggregated test results, it is noteworthy that reported results indicate that there were seven SOL tests in King George where all students achieved passing scores during the 2012-13 school year.
The Aug. 20 press release contained school-level test-by-test SOL pass rates. The numbers of students taking the tests were not provided.
The schools and subjects receiving 100% pass rates in were:
King George Middle School: Algebra I;
King George Middle School: Geometry;
King George Middle School: Biology;
King George Elementary School: Grade 7 Math;
King George Elementary School: Grade 8 Math;
Potomac Elementary School: Grade 7 Math; and
Sealston Elementary School: Grade 7 Math.
(The pass rates released by the state thus far can be found on the VDOE website.)