RICHMOND -- Students in Virginia scored higher on SOL math tests, but scores for reading and writing stayed flat during 2013-2014 year, according to data released from the Virginia Department of Education on Wednesday.
The new online mathematics SOL tests were first introduced three years ago as part of an effort to better prepare students for success in college and the work force. The tests require students to apply critical-thinking skills as well as knowledge of mathematics to solve multistep problems.
Statewide, 74 percent of students passed the mathematics assessment for their grade level or course, compared with 71 percent during 2012-2013.
Locally, 5th grade math scores at Tidewater Park Elementary in Norfolk improved from 41 percent of students passing to 92 percent.
At Bayside Middle in Virginia Beach, the pass rate for 7th grade math went up from 25 percent to 55 percent. Chief Academic Officer Amy Cashwell attributes the gain to the hard work of the students, staff and support from administration.
"This level of intensity will continue, even increase, next school year, Cashwell said. "The math department at Bayside Middle came back to school a week earlier than teachers were scheduled to begin planning for success in the new school year."
Chesapeake’s Thurgood Marshall Elementary also showed improvement, with 4th grade math scores going from 51 percent to 83 percent.
Newport News Newsome Park Elementary grade 5 math improved from 26 percent to 50 percent.
At Hunter B. Andrews in Hampton, 3rd grade math pass rates rose from 52 percent to 81 percent.
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“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.
Statewide performance in reading, writing and science was relatively flat compared with achievement in 2012-2013. The 2013-2014 school year was the second in which students took tests reflecting the rigor of revised reading, writing and science standards adopted by the Board of Education in 2010.
“The board knew that, with 132 school divisions and more than 1,850 schools, meeting these expectations would be a multiyear process as teachers, principals and other educators align curriculum and pedagogy to the higher standards,” Board of Education President Christian N. Braunlich said.
In reading, 74 percent of students passed the SOL test for their grade level, and 75 percent passed in writing. Students in 48 school divisions improved their overall performance in reading, and in 20 divisions, overall reading achievement remained the same. Students in 43 divisions improved their overall performance in writing, and in 13 divisions, writing achievement was unchanged.
At Deep Creek Elementary in Chesapeake, 4th grade reading went down from 81 percent to 73 percent of students passing.
In Newport News, T. Ryland Sanford Elementary 3rd grade reading scores dropped from 59 percent to 49 percent.
At Ocean Lakes Elementary in Virginia Beach, 3rd grade reading scores dropped from
79 percent to 69 percent.
Students in 39 school divisions achieved overall increases in history and social science, and the performance of students in 20 divisions was unchanged. The percentage of students statewide passing grade-level or end-of-course tests in history/social science during 2013-2014 was 84 percent, a one-point decline from the previous year.
State accreditation ratings will be issued next month, along with updated school and division report cards.
“The increase that we will see next month in the number of schools that fall short of the state’s accreditation standards must be viewed in the context of the higher standards and changing assessments,” Staples said.