ACPS Makes Little Progress, but Stays the Course on SOL Scores
The school division, like other divisions across the state, fell deeply in math as was expected due to new, more rigorous assessments.
Virginia’s Department of Education released the results of the state Standards of Learning tests and Alexandria City Public Schools did not perform strongly although showed some consistency and a few areas of progress.
ACPS Superintendent Morton Sherman said that last year the division committed to making reading a focus area for the 2011-12 school year to stop the downward trend in SOL reading scores from the previous three years.
That strategy paid off on some levels. There were some bright spots in English reading scores, with fourth-graders overall edging up to a pass rate of 81 percent over last year’s 79 percent. However, seventh-graders fell in English reading from 83 percent to 79 percent.
“Out of the seven grade levels tested in reading, grades three, four and six improved and grade eight maintained last year’s achievement level,” he said, adding “we still have work to do; however we are pleased to see progress.”
History and social sciences scores remained fairly consistent from the 2010-2011 school year to 2011-2012 and third grade even edged up from a 74 percent pass rate to 76 percent.
Statewide, results in English, science and history/social science remained relatively stable as well.
Alexandria's mathematics scores overall fell dramatically as they did statewide with new, more stringent state math assessments.
Alexandria’s exception to that was sixth-grade mathematics, which moved up from 54 percent to 61 percent.
Third grade fell from a 88 percent pass rate to 57 percent, for example, while eighth-graders fell from a 62 percent to a low 22 percent pass rate.
Speaking of the state as a whole, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia Wright said: “While we have a long climb before we reach the achievement levels we hope to see on the new mathematics tests, the results released... represent a good start and provide a solid foundation for further progress in 2012-2013.”
An ACPS statement said the division will focus on professional development for teachers with support in the area of math concepts and that it plans to examine best practices where ACPS teachers and schools are meeting benchmarks.
Science tests also showed some consistency with third-graders nudging up to 81 percent from 80 percent, but fifth-graders fell to 73 percent from 80 percent.
Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology and William Ramsay performed well and were cited by Sherman as “examples of schools making a huge difference under challenging circumstances.” They made gains across all levels in reading and both schools have the highest percentage of students eligible for free and reduced price lunch in the division.