SOL results released for local school divisions

Public school divisions have received their 2015-2016 Standards Of Learning test results from the Virginia Department of Education.

The Virginia Assessment Program includes Standards of Learning tests and other statewide assessments in English, history/social science, mathematics and science.

Shenandoah County

Shenandoah County Public Schools Superintendent Mark Johnston noted in a news release this week that the division is an organization of continuous improvement. It recognizes critical areas for student growth that continues to be successful and is making progress toward meeting all assessment benchmarks.

“Our students with limited English improved nearly five percentage points in both Reading and Mathematics,” Johnston stated in the release. “As well, the percentage of SCPS students receiving free and reduced meals, a measure of economic status, met the Mathematics benchmark again this year.”

He added that students exceeded the Federal Graduation Indicator benchmark by 10 percentage points. Across all mathematics assessments, students exceeded the benchmark by more than 5 percentage points; and English scores for students at all three high schools exceeded the benchmark by more than 7 percentage points.

According to the test results, Shenandoah County students dipped below state averages in most categories, except for science, which the county hit exactly. But when comparing the results from the 2015-2016 past school year to the previous school year, the county improved in mathematics, writing and science.

The division was also slightly below the 2015-2016 state English accreditation benchmark of 75 percent.

In the English reading portion of the 2015-2016 SOL, 71 percent of students passed. This is below the state average pass rate of 80 percent for this category and 1 point below the county’s 2014-2015 results.

For the mathematics portion, 77 percent of students passed. This is slightly below the state average of 80 percent, but is 1 percentage point above the county’s results in 2014-2015. The division also surpassed that state accreditation benchmark of 70 percent.

In English writing, 72 percent passed. This is below the state average of a 77 percent pass rate, but is 2 points above the county’s 2014-2015 results.

For history, 84 percent passed. This is 2 points below the state average and the county’s 2014-2015 results of 86 percent, but was above the state’s accreditation benchmark of 70 percent.

In science, 83 percent passed. This is even with the state average of 83 percent and 1 point above the county’s 2014-2015 results. The division was also above the state accreditation benchmark of 70 percent.

The attendance rate for the 2015-2016 school year kept steady with 95 percent, the same as the 2014-2015 school year, but was 1 point below the state average.

For individual schools, Johnston said that the division was informed last Friday that W.W. Robinson Elementary School will once again be a Focus School. He said that last year, W.W. Robinson was not a Focus School.

“This determination is done by the VDOE using a calculation involving gap points, which is the difference between the target score and the actual score by group, known as a gap score,” he said. “This means that staff will be working with the VDOE and an assigned coach in targeting specific areas of improvement through an improvement plan delineating strategies specific to the target groups and standards. Staff is attending a VDOE-sponsored conference in Williamsburg on Sept. 20 where we hope to learn more.”

He said that the areas for improvement are targeted to improve instruction in specific areas of content, known as content standards.

“The challenge is that some groups meet the target and other groups do not. While it may be a gap group as defined by the VDOE and federal No Child Left Behind Act, practically, it comes down to the need to target support to individual students for improvement rather than student groups,” he said.

In the news release, Johnston explained that Virginia is in the process of transitioning from the No Child Left Behind Act to the new Every Student Succeeds Act. This means that targets established by the federal government will no longer apply to most schools, but will factor into the identification of Priority and Focus schools for 2016-2017.

Warren County

Throughout Warren County Public Schools, standardized test pass rates increased 2 percent in math, 6 percent in writing and 3 percent in science. Pass rates for reading tests stayed at 78 percent and decreased 1 percent for history tests to 86 percent districtwide.

Most of those statistics lie close to or in line with state averages, with a 2-percent gap below the state in reading, math and writing. History scores are right in line with the state, and performance on science tests in Warren County actually surpassed the state average by 1 point last school year after dipping slightly to 1 point below state average the year before.

Divisionwide, pass rates would meet the state accreditation thresholds in all subjects. Attendance rates in Warren County have stayed constant for the past three years at 94 percent, compared with state average attendance rates between 95 and 96 percent.

Lisa Rudacille, director of elementary instruction, said that with score improvement throughout the division, administration anticipates that six out of eight schools will be fully accredited.

Skyline High School is expected to become fully accredited, while Ressie Jeffries Elementary School is expected to become a partially accredited school approaching the benchmark.

English reading performance at Ressie remains 4 percentage points below the state accreditation threshold but has improved by 5 percent since the 2014-2015 school year. Math test pass rates at Ressie have gone up 15 percent since the 2014-2015 school year, which Rudacille said was due at least in part to comprehensive curriculum development.

“We spent the last year and a half working specifically on math and this year we’ll begin that same process with English,” she said.

She said that during that development, teachers work to “unpack the standards” by lining up assessment topics with what’s taught in the classroom.

English reading test pass rates at E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School dipped from 74 to 66 percent for the 2015-2016 year. Rudacille said that the school will go through similar academic review and planning processes to those at Skyline and Ressie.

“Between the development of their three-year improvement plans and the work we’ve done with our curriculum, we’ve definitely seen the fruits of our labor there,” she said.

Frederick County

More Frederick County students passed SOL tests in all subjects except for history and social sciences, with 87 percent of students passing history tests in both the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years. The state average pass rate for history is 86 percent.

For English reading tests, students have continued to improve: 70 percent of students passed in 2013-2014, 75 percent passed in 2014-2015 and 77 percent of students across the division passed last year – still 3 points below the state average pass rate of 80 percent.

English writing test pass rates have seen a similar increase over the years, from 72 percent in 2013-2014 up to 79 percent of students last year. The state average pass rate for the writing test is 77 percent.

Math test pass rates climbed 2 percentage points to 78 percent last year, still 2 points below state averages.

Frederick schools have held steady in history testing with 87 percent of students passing, 1 point above the state average pass rate. Students are on par with the state in terms of science testing, with 83 percent of them passing.

Dr. James Angelo, assistant superintendent for instruction, spoke to the Frederick County School Board about expected school accreditation at the board’s regular August meeting. He said the division expects to go from having around one half of schools fully accredited to more than two thirds fully accredited within a few years.

“We’re definitely making progress,” he said after the meeting. “We’re not where we want to be yet, but we will be, we’re getting there.”

State accreditation ratings will be released by the VDOE on Sept. 16, along with updated school and division report cards.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com