News / The Northern Virginia Daily/nvdaily.com
State: Area schools need improvement plans
Two schools must hire coaches to help boost student performance
Several area schools must develop improvement plans because they did not meet annual measurable objectives, according to Virginia Department of Education data released Wednesday.
Two schools, Indian Hollow Elementary in Frederick County and W.W. Robinson Elementary in Shenandoah County, have been classified as focus schools and each will need to hire a coach to help improve student performance.
The new objectives recently took the place of adequate yearly progress targets, which schools were required to meet under the federal education law.
Now, under No Child Left Behind Act flexibility waivers, Virginia's new objectives represent the percentage of students within each subgroup who must pass Standards of Learning tests in reading and math to make acceptable progress over six years.
While the new objectives are focused on goals for low-performing schools, all schools must meet them.
Subgroups include black, Hispanic, white and Asian students, as well as those with disabilities and with economic disadvantages.
The objectives for math were changed following the new SOL test, and are lower than those for reading.
Of Virginia's 1,836 schools that took SOLs, 1,241 achieved all annual measurable objectives. Only 36 schools were classified as priority and 72 were labeled focus schools. Improvement plans will be required for 485 of the state's public schools.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia Wright stated in a news release on Wednesday that the "waivers from NCLB mandates granted by the Obama administration to Virginia and other states mark a dramatic shift in federal education policy. We are now able to target school turnaround efforts and resources on those schools where students truly are falling behind."
In Frederick County, 10 schools met all of the state's objectives. Eight -- including Frederick County and James Wood middle schools and James Wood and Millbrook high schools -- did not, and will have to begin improvement plans.
In a news release sent out by the school division, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Peter Vernimb noted that 10 schools meeting the objectives is an improvement from only two meeting them last year.
"I'm confident that all of our schools that didn't meet the AMOs this year can continue to make progress toward doing so even as the state's standards are becoming more rigorous," he said.
Indian Hollow Elementary School, however, attained the status of a focus school and will be required to "employ a state-approved coach to help develop, implement and monitor intervention strategies to improve the performance of students at risk of not meeting achievement standards," according to the VDOE news release.
The school division will not have to adjust its budget to allow for the employment of such a coach, according to Steve Edwards, the school's director of communications.
Superintendent David Sovine said that student performance on standardized tests is just one measure of a school's success.
"A school that does not meet all of the AMOs is not necessarily a poor performing school," Sovine said.
In addition to W.W. Robinson being labeled a focus school, Shenandoah County Public Schools has three schools -- Ashby Lee Elementary, Sandy Hook Elementary and Signal Knob Middle -- that will have to implement improvement plans.
Superintendent B. Keith Rowland said that each school missed the English objectives by just a few points in a particular group, but met the requirements for math.
"It's important that people realize that we're not a failing school division because of this," he said. "We have guidelines from the state that we will follow, and we'll do our best to address the issue."
Four Warren County Public Schools met all annual measurable objectives, but four others, three elementary schools and the middle school, will complete improvement plans.
Greg Drescher, assistant superintendent for instruction, said that each school missed the "white group" objective of 90 percent by a few points.
"While we certainly work to meet all of the AMOs for every group, we do see high levels of achievement when we are having pass rates in the high 80s," he said.
While all schools in the division already develop annual plans to make continuous improvements, Drescher added that the four schools with the requirement will "make sure the AMO areas are specifically addressed."
The Virginia Board of Education will vote on Oct. 25 on objectives for math during school years 2012-2013 through 2016-2017.
Reading objectives for assessment years 2012-2013 through 2016-2017 will be based on results from the reading SOL test that students will take for the first time this year.
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or firstname.lastname@example.org