Standards of Learning (SOL) results released Aug. 13 by the Virginia Department of Education show that the Alexandria City Public Schools fell below the statewide SOL averages for the third consecutive year. [See charts at right.]
A bright spot showed the percentage of the city’s students testing proficient in math increased by nine points.
“While we are encouraged by these Math results which show a higher level of students testing proficient, we still have much work to do. These results are the result of our strategic focus and the work we have all put in this last year and this work will need to continue. This progress is already being replicated across other subject areas and all grade levels where we anticipate similar growth over the coming school year,” said ACPS Chief Academic Officer Dr. Terri H. Mozingo in an Aug. 13 ACPS press release.
MATH RESULTS increased across the board in all subgroups. The percentage of Black, Hispanic, English Learner and Economically Disadvantaged students proficient in math all increased by nine percentage points or more. The ACPS rate of growth in math for all students was four percentage points higher than growth seen at the state level, and five percentage points higher for Economically Disadvantaged students also at the state level.
In the History subject area, 72% of all ACPS students passed the Standards of Learning tests, while 70%, 68% and 67% met the standards in Writing, Reading, Science, respectively, according to this federally-adjusted test data. These results either remained flat or saw a slight drop for ACPS.
According to the ACPS press release, “This coming school year, ACPS will have an intentional focus on improving reading skills. Our instructional leaders have been analyzing the data over the past year and have already outlined areas for improvement during the planning process for the upcoming school year. This school year will see necessary changes to the Virginia English Standards of Learning, in the same way that the Virginia Math Standards of Learning were updated this past year. ACPS has already taken a variety of proactive measures, including:
implementing a new comprehensive elementary reading program;
focusing on writing instruction at all grade levels;
continuing alignment of the curriculum with Virginia State standards;
ongoing data analysis and instructional support using reading inventory results and other assessment measures; and
sustaining professional learning at all grade-levels.”
“THIS KIND of success doesn't happen by chance, nor does it happen overnight. It happens through hard work, planning, preparation and dedication for all students to experience success regardless of their life circumstances. It is our responsibility as educators to relentlessly advocate and remove educational barriers that prevent any child from reaching their highest level desired,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. in the Aug. 13 ACPS press release.
State SOL assessments were given to students in grades three through eight in English Language Arts (Reading/Writing), Math, Science and History/Social Studies and in high school core subjects assessed by end-of-course exams. Revisions to the Standards of Accreditation that were approved by the state Board of Education in 2017 and became effective last year reduced the number of SOL tests high school students must pass in order to graduate. Under the revised regulations, students who meet the testing requirement in a content area do not have to take another test in the subject unless additional testing is required for the school to comply with federal testing requirements. Previously, high school students continued to take end-of-course tests even if they had already earned the credits in the content area necessary to graduate.
The 2018-19 school year saw the introduction of new math SOL tests, reflecting revisions to the state mathematics standards approved by the state Board of Education in 2016. The introduction of the new tests marked the end of the three-year transition to the revised standards.
The ACPS press release concluded: “Although we still have much work to do with academic achievement in ACPS, SOLs are just one measure of student success. Beyond the test scores ACPS also looks at career readiness, meeting the social and emotional needs of all students, building character, the experiences they have inside and outside of the classroom, and how they give back to the community.
“Final school accreditation ratings for the 2019-20 school year will be announced on Sept. 26. The combined rates used to calculate accreditation ratings include adjustments for successful instructional support, growth of students towards proficiency in reading and mathematics, allowances for transfer students and English learners, and other provisions approved by the state Board of Education.”