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SOL results mixed bag for county students

SoVaNow.com / September 19, 2013


The latest results of Standards of Learning (SOL) tests, released Tuesday by the state Department of Education, represent a mixed bag for Halifax County.

“We were certainly all over the place,” said Nancy Zirkle, testing coordinator for Halifax County Public Schools.

“We had the highest scores in the region in our fifth grade writing at Cluster Springs Elementary, and our lowest scores [with] only 20 percent passage in eighth grade math,” Zirkle said.

Out of 34 test areas, spanning grades three through high school, Halifax County students showed year-to-year improvement in 12 subjects.

Improvements came in mathematics, geography, world history, Virginia history and US history.

The improved pass rates on math tests showed up in grades three, five, six and eight. However, the lowest of all this year’s test scores came on the grade 7 math test, which 20 percent of students passed, compared to 42 percent the previous year. The latest battery of SOL testing took place in the spring.

“We found this largely due to a matter of scheduling and we know what we have to do about the problem,” Zirkle said.

The fourth grade math pass rate also dropped eight percentage points, from 71 to 63.

High school math scores improved by several points in Algebra I, Algebra II and geometry. Also improving were high school pass rates in geography, which rose from 75 to 76, Virginia and US History, from 83 to 87, World History I, from 63 to 71, and World History II, from 77 to 87.

Overall third grade scores were the highest with history scores rising (83 to 89) and math (56 to 59) while their English reading scores dropped only by six points (81 to 75) and science which showed a one percent drop from 86 to 85.

Scores on this year’s new English tests dropped in every grade with fifth grade reading scores dipping by 25 points from 92 to 67 and eighth grade reading down by 28 points (82 to 54). Eighth grade writing scores also took a deep 34 percent dive from 86 to 52.

Writing tests were done on line this year for the first time, Zirkle said, pointing to the fact that even fifth graders had to type their papers on line.

The biggest drop, however, came in Grade 8 science scores which plunged by 40 points from 90 to 50 percent. Also dropping were biology scores (87 to 66) chemistry (93 to 77) and earth science (85 to 75).

Earth science (which is taught only in the eighth grade) scores dipped across the state from 92 percent to 76, Zirkle pointed out, noting that many of the questions were of a technical nature and vocabulary was also a big part of the problem. “We now have three years to prepare for these new tests and we will be working very hard to be ready for them,” she said, With many of the tests in English and science being new this year, Zirkle said teachers are sharing their ideas with each other trying to ensure that higher scores result during testing next spring.

Despite lower scores in some subjects, Zirkle said she felt good about the improvement in many areas after examining the low scores across the state. “I’m very optimistic that we will improve in many areas next spring,” she said.





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Comments

I have an idea. Why don't we let the morons that we elect or the dumb***es they hire close some more schools. That is what the last efficiency study by the "experts" at Pissmatic Services Inc. recommended. Then we can have our teachers teaching perhaps 30 or more students in the same class at the same time. We can even pack so many kids under the same roof that instead of serving lunch before 11AM we can start lunch before 10AM. But hey, why worry about learning when the kids have new schools to be dumbed down in? Thanks to all the wise leaders of this community who's education and leadership skills we just could not do without. Seriously, how are you beaming lights of intellect able to have even a school board meeting without "expert" consultants present?

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Twenty years from now the same idiots that wanted to close schools will be campaigning to renovate the very schools they chose to abandon.


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