Local school divisions see increased math SOL scores, following statewide trends

The Virginia Department of Education preliminary Standards of Learning (SOL) test results released Wednesday reflect a more rigorous English and writing standard.

Locally, results follow some statewide trends, including higher math scores.  However, several school divisions went against the trend of lower English, history, and science scores by scoring higher in those areas.

“The scores declined across the state because the last couple of years, the testing has changed to incorporate more learning methods, including more open-ended questions,” said Ross Miller, New Kent County Director of Testing andAccountability.

Department of Education board President Christian N. Braunlich said in a press release that the emphasis of the SOL program has started shifting from the minimum statewide expectations for competency to college and career readiness.

According to the VDOE, 74 percent of students in 2013-14 passed the mathematics assessment for their grade level or course. That’s compared to 71 percent the previous year.

“The gains students made show that – despite all of the weather-related interruptions last winter – the statewide focus on teaching students to be problem solvers and to apply what they have learned in mathematics in real-life situations is producing results,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples said in a press release.

The Department of Education reported that 110 of Virginia’s 132 school divisions improved their math performance, while math scores in 13 school divisions remain unchanged.

Once again, the statewide reading, writing, science, and history SOL test scores declined one percentage point each. Reading decreased to 74 percent, writing to 75 percent, science to 80 percent, and history to 84 percent.

King & Queen County

As a whole, King & Queen County followed increasing statewide math trends.

The King & Queen SOLs showed an increase in math scores, except for grades three and seven. Average scores for third grade fell 31 percent, while seventh grade scores decreased by five percent.

SOL scores in reading, writing, science and history were a mixed bag. Some grades and subjects followed the state's downward trend, while others defied it.

Although overall King & Queen County’s SOL scores fell in line with other school divisions in the state, Superintendent Dr. Stanley Jones said he puts little weight in the testing.

“When people look at the SOL scores of these smaller schools, they have to remember that because of the size, if one student doesn’t pass the test, it pulls down the average much faster than it would at a much bigger school. When looking at SOL scores across the board, it’s not really comparing apples to apples.”

King William County

While King William County Public Schools saw test scores fall for some grade levels, third gradersunder performed in all four testing areas.

“We’re fully accredited again, which is very good,” King William County Superintendent Mark Jones said. “We do have areas where we need to work, and our teachers and staffs are already on that. Cool Spring Primary School (the county’s pre-K through second grade school) is looking at third and fourth grade data like it’s their data. We also have our teachers in some pretty rigorous staff development in areas they feel they really need to address.”

The division also struggled in English and reading, scoring below the state average for all but two grade levels.

“Every year we go back at the beginning of the year as soon as we get test results and look at how well we did in areas where we need to revise,” Jones added. “Then we go back and look at our pacing guides – which are (guides to what we teach and when) during the school year – and we look at how we can change those to better enhance our instruction.”

New Kent County