Students in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) improved their pass rates on the Spring 2002 Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) tests, posting an overall division pass rate up to 21-percent higher than their pass rates on the 2001 tests, based on unofficial adjusted results released by the school system. Mount Vernon-area schools reflected those improvements.
West Potomac High School showed significant gains in a number of subjects. In earth science, for example, the school had a pass rate of 38 percent in 2001, and a pass rate of 73 percent in 2002. In World History II, the school improved from a 50-percent pass rate in 2001, to an 80-percent pass rate this year.
Forty-four percent of the students at West Potomac passed the U. S. History SOL in 2001, and 71 percent passed the test this year. In Algebra II, 66 percent of the students passed the exam in 2001, whereas 78 percent passed this year.
In Algebra I, the passing rate improved from 64 percent in 2001 to 72 percent this year. Geometry was the only area in which students at the school showed any decrease in passing rates, going from 78 percent to 76 percent. Although these results are unofficial, they indicate that the school should be fully accredited.
MOUNT VERNON HIGH SCHOOL did not fare as well. In World History II, the passing rate increased from 50 percent last year to 69 percent this year. Students also showed significant improvement in U. S. History, going from a pass rate of 42 percent last year to 65 percent now. In chemistry, however, the passing rate dropped from 55 percent in 2001 to 50 percent this year. Biology’s passing rate dropped from 73 percent last year to 66 percent this year. Students did not attain the 70-percent pass rate in any area of mathematics, coming the closest in geometry, with a pass rate of 65 percent.
Among FCPS Project Excel schools, Mount Eagle Elementary posted the highest gains in third-grade English (a 52-percent gain), history (a 42-percent gain) and science (a 39-percent gain), and in fifth-grade math (a 41-percent gain) and science (a 24-percent gain). Woodlawn Elementary posted a 27-percent gain in grade-three math; Mount Vernon Woods Elementary posted a 20-percent gain in grade-five writing; and Cameron Elementary posted a 32-percent gain in grade-five history.
FCPS THIRD- AND FIFTH-grade students posted pass rates above 80 percent on all their SOL tests, with fifth-graders topping 90 percent in writing and computer technology. The biggest gain by third-graders was in English, a 3.72-percent increase. Fifth-graders posted their biggest gain in history, a jump of 9.25 percent. Eighth-graders posted their biggest gain in history, a pass rate increase of 14.39 percent. Among high-school students, the biggest gain was made in U.S. history, an increase of 20.65 percent, and in World History from 1000, a gain of 11.53 percent.
The school system's average pass rate for all tests tops 70 percent and is above 80 percent for 24 of the 27 total SOL tests and above 90 percent for five of the tests. In 1998, the average pass rate was below 70 percent on 11 tests and below 60 percent on five tests, and no test had a pass rate of 90 percent or greater.
FCPS students have increased their passing percentage by more than 10 percentage points in 17 different subjects since 1998, the first year the SOLs were administered. The percentage has increased by more than 20 percentage points in seven subjects and more than 30 percentage points in three subjects. SOLs are given to students in third, fifth and eighth grades and to high-school students.
THE GAPS IN SOL scores between Hispanic and white students and between black and white students have been reduced in 21 of the 27 subject areas between 2000 and 2002. Hispanic students have closed the gap by almost 12 percentage points in two subjects (grade-eight history and social studies and high-school U.S. history), and black students have closed the gap by more than 12 percentage points in grade-eight history and social studies.
"The results speak for themselves," said FCPS superintendent Daniel A. Domenech. "Our students are learning and are demonstrating their knowledge via their SOL scores. And our focus on narrowing the gap for black and Hispanic students is paying off as the disparities in these scores become less pronounced."