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Virginia Department of Education releases 2012-13 SOL results

By Web Staff, news@wdbj7.com
Published On: Aug 20 2013 10:26:37 AM EDT
Updated On: Aug 20 2013 07:08:59 PM EDT

Local schools follow state trends: Math up, English down

RICHMOND, Va. -

The Virginia Board of Education released last years SOL testing scores and school leaders in our area got what they feared: a big drop in reading and writing scores, especially for middle schoolers.

In our area, students followed state trends.

The big question: "Why did this happen ?"

Administrators say each school district is obviously different and faces different challenges, but there were two reasons we heard pretty consistently.

We're told the students were thrown off by the computer-based test and that the multiple choice sections were much more difficult.

Much like math scores a year ago, school leaders expected this, even in some areas, like Roanoke County, where pass rates dropped from the 90's into the 80's.

"There's an adaptation period involved where students are used to writing by hand and are used to typing into the computer.  For a high school student you might not think that's a big deal, but we also have a fifth grade writing test where it's new to our elementary students," said Roanoke County Testing Coordinator Ben Williams.

The state will hand down accreditation rulings later and this is obviously a concern for some school districts.

The department of education knew the test would be harder, so its not likely that school accreditation will be taken away.

There were some bright spots in the results.

The math scores bounced back nicely this year and school leaders expect the same to happen with these reading and writing scores.

Also, for those reading and writing scores, the drops in high schools were generally less severe than in the middle schools.

To see a web extra video demonstrating key issues administrators say may have contributed to the drop in SOL test scores in reading and writing for 2012-13, click here.

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FROM AP IN RICHMOND

Virginia education officials say student performance improved on the state's more rigorous mathematics tests.

But pass rates fell as expected on the newly revised English and science tests.

The state Department of Education on Tuesday released Standards of Learning results for the 2012-2013 school year.

Overall, 71 percent of students passed the math assessments in the 2012-2013 school year, compared with 68 percent the year before.

Math results for the previous school year were down notably because of the revised standards aimed at better preparing students for college or post-graduation employment.

Officials say 75 percent of students passed the reading tests and 76 percent passed the writing portion.

In science, 81 percent passed their grade-level or end-of-course tests, and 85 percent passed their history and social science tests.

Click here to see division-level test rates, click here to see state-level test-by-test pass rates, and click here to see school-level test-by-test SOL pass rates.

Here are the statewide results, by subject:

Statewide Mathematics SOL Pass Rates

Test

2011-2012

2012-2013

Change

Algebra I

75

76

+1

Geometry

74

76

+2

Algebra II

69

76

+7

Grade 8

60

61

+1

Grade 7

58

61

+3

Grade 6

74

77

+3

Grade 5

67

69

+2

Grade 4

70

74

+4

Grade 3

64

65

+1

Statewide Reading & Writing SOL Pass Rates

Test

2011-2012

2012-2013

High School Reading

94

89

High School Writing

93

87

Grade-8 Reading

89

71

Grade-8 Writing

88

70

Grade-7 Reading

88

74

Grade-6 Reading

89

73

Grade-5 Reading

89

73

Grade-5 Writing

87

71

Grade-4 Reading

88

70

Grade-3 Reading

86

72

Statewide Science SOL Pass Rates

Test

2011-2012

2012-2013

Biology

92

83

Chemistry

93

86

Earth Science

90

83

Grade 8

92

76

Grade 5

88

75

Grade 3

90

84

Statewide History/Social Science
SOL Pass Rates

Test

2011-2012

2012-2013

Virginia & US History

85

86

World History II

85

85

World History I

84

84

Geography

85

86

Civics & Economics

84

85

US History II

84

82

US History I

81

83

Virginia Studies

89

87

Grade 3

87

87

Here is the news release from the Virginia Department of Education:

Student achievement improved during 2012-2013 on challenging mathematics Standards of Learning (SOL) tests first introduced two years ago, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) reported today.
Statewide, 71 percent of students passed the mathematics assessment for their grade level or course, compared with 68 percent during 2011-2012. Students posted gains on all of the individual grade-level and end-of-course mathematics SOL tests, with the biggest increases in grades 4, 6, 7 and Algebra II.

“I am so proud of the thousands of teachers in school divisions across this diverse state whose focus on critical thinking and problem solving — as well as mathematics content knowledge — prepared students to increase their achievement on these rigorous assessments,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright said. “Raising standards is difficult, but well worth the effort. We are asking students to meet higher expectations so that when they graduate, they will be ready for college and the work force.”
“The improved performance of students on these challenging and innovative tests shows that we are moving in the right direction,” Board of Education President David M. Foster said. “The higher pass rates achieved by students in many rural, urban and suburban divisions suggest that the state board has not put the bar out of reach. I believe we would be selling our students short if we were to retreat by weakening the SOL program.”

Statewide Mathematics SOL Pass Rates
Test 2011-2012 2012-2013 Change
Algebra I 75 76 +1
Geometry 74 76 +2
Algebra II 69 76 +7
Grade 8 60 61 +1
Grade 7 58 61 +3
Grade 6 74 77 +3
Grade 5 67 69 +2
Grade 4 70 74 +4
Grade 3 64 65 +1

The online mathematics SOL tests taken by most Virginia students include technology-enhanced items that mirror classroom instruction and assignments. The items require students to apply mathematical knowledge and critical-thinking skills in solving multistep problems. Multiple-choice items on the tests also reflect the increased rigor of the mathematics standards adopted by the Board of Education in 2009.
On each of the nine mathematics SOL tests, more than half of Virginia’s 132 school divisions saw increases in student achievement, including on the end-of-course tests (Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II) students must pass to earn diplomas.
• Algebra I — 75 divisions improved, 40 divisions had pass rates of 80 percent or higher and 87 had pass rates of 70 percent or higher.
• Algebra II —102 divisions improved, 48 divisions had pass rates of 80 percent or higher and 90 had pass rates of 70 percent or higher.
• Geometry — 83 divisions improved, 33 divisions had pass rates of 80 percent or higher and 83 had pass rates of 70 percent or higher.
The English and science SOL tests students took during 2012-2013 were the first to reflect the increased rigor of revised standards adopted in these subject areas by the Board of Education in 2010. Last year also marked the debut of online SOL writing tests, although all schools participated in a statewide field test of the assessments during 2011-2012. As expected, pass rates on the new tests were lower than in 2011-2012 on the now-retired assessments based on the 2002 English SOL and 2003 Science SOL.
“The results of the new English and science tests begin new trend lines,” Wright said. “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.”
Seventy-five percent of students passed the reading test for their grade level, and 76 percent passed in writing. The highest pass rates were on the reading and writing tests most high school students take in their junior year. Students must pass these two tests to earn a Standard or Advanced Studies diploma. There is no limit on the number of times a student may take a test he or she needs to pass to earn a diploma.
• On the high school reading test, students in 118 divisions achieved pass rates of 80 percent or higher, and all divisions administering the test achieved pass rates of 70 percent or higher.
• On the high school writing test, students in 107 divisions achieved pass rates of 80 percent or higher, and 128 achieved pass rates of 70 percent or higher.
Statewide Reading & Writing SOL Pass Rates
Test 2011-2012 2012-2013
High School Reading 94 89
High School Writing 93 87
Grade-8 Reading 89 71
Grade-8 Writing 88 70
Grade-7 Reading 88 74
Grade-6 Reading 89 73
Grade-5 Reading 89 73
Grade-5 Writing 87 71
Grade-4 Reading 88 70
Grade-3 Reading 86 72
In the elementary and middle school grades, at least seven out of 10 students earned passing scores in reading and writing. The state superintendent predicted that reading and writing achievement will increase as schools align curriculum and instruction with the new standards.
“Strengthening early reading and adolescent literacy will impact learning in all areas.” Wright said.
In science, 81 percent of students passed their grade-level or end-of-course tests (Biology, Chemistry and Earth Science). The highest pass rates were on the grade-3 test and the high
school tests. Students must pass at least one end-of-course science test to earn a Standard Diploma and at least two for an Advanced Studies Diploma.
• On the Earth Science end-of-course test, 93 school divisions had pass rates of at least 80
percent and 116 had pass rates of 70 percent or higher.
• On the Chemistry test, 94 divisions had pass rates of 80 percent or higher and 119 had pass rates of 70 percent or higher.
• On the Biology test, 81 divisions had pass rates of 80 percent or higher and 115 had pass rates of 70 percent or higher.
Statewide Science SOL Pass Rates
Test 2011-2012 2012-2013
Biology 92 83
Chemistry 93 86
Earth Science 90 83
Grade 8 92 76
Grade 5 88 75
Grade 3 90 84
The percentage of students statewide passing grade-level or end-of-course tests in history/social science during 2012-2013 was 85 percent, the same as in 2011-2012. The Board of Education’s adoption of revised history/social science standards in 2008 and the introduction of more rigorous history/social science tests in 2010-2011 marked the beginning of the change of focus of the SOL program from minimum grade-level standards to college and career readiness.
Statewide, achievement increased by one point on two of the four end-of-course tests (Virginia and US History, Geography, World History I and World History II) high school students take to earn verified credits for graduation.
Statewide History/Social Science SOL Pass Rates
Test 2011-2012 2012-2013
Virginia & US History 85 86
World History II 85 85
World History I 84 84
Geography 85 86
Civics & Economics 84 85
US History II 84 82
US History I 81 83
Virginia Studies 89 87
Grade 3 87 87
State accreditation and federal accountability reports will be issued next month, along with updated school and division report cards.
"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. "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."
Wright said VDOE will continue to provide training and resources related to the revised standards and assessments in all content areas. This includes weekly TeacherDirect email alerts to teachers about new SOL-related resources and professional development opportunities.