WINCHESTER — Area school divisions saw their math and science Standards of Learning (SOL) pass rates improve or stay the same in the 2018-19 school year, according to data released Tuesday by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), but there were mostly declines in reading, writing and history/social science.
Of the standardized test’s five subject areas, Winchester Public Schools saw improvement in three: math, science and writing.
Frederick County Public Schools improved in one subject area (math), and Clarke County Public Schools improved in two subject areas (math and science).
Winchester’s math and science scores showed the most improvement of the three local school divisions, but those scores still remained lower than Frederick’s and Clarke’s.
Winchester’s math pass rate increased from 70% to 77% and its science score improved from 75% to 78%.
Frederick’s math pass rate increased from 75% to 79%, while Clarke’s increased from 77% to 80%.
Frederick’s science pass rate remained unchanged at 79%, while Clarke’s improved from 81% to 82%.
While math and science pass rates generally showed improvement, reading, writing and history/social science scores dipped, reflecting a statewide trend. State pass rates in reading decreased from 79% to 78%, writing from 78% to 76% and history/social science from 84% to 80%.
Clarke’s reading score dropped from 77% to 72%, Winchester’s from 70% to 67% and Frederick’s from 76% to 74%.
In writing, Winchester’s pass rate increased from 70% to 73%, while Clarke’s dropped from 77% to 75% and Frederick’s from 76% to 75%.
Clarke’s history/social science pass rate decreased from 90% to 83%, Frederick’s from 84% to 81% and Winchester’s from 79% to 77%.
High school students took fewer SOL tests in 2018-19 as a result of the state’s Standards of Accreditation being revised in 2017. New math SOL tests also were introduced.
Winchester Superintendent Jason Van Heukelum said he was pleased with the division’s 2018-19 SOL test results. While he said standardized tests don’t explain a student’s entire education, it does help school officials evaluate and make appropriate adjustments.
“Over the past three years, we continue to make solid gains. I am proud of the work of our teachers and administrators,” he said.
Van Heukelum credited the improved scores to an aligned curriculum and effective teaching practices. Three years ago, Winchester Public Schools began creating a guaranteed curriculum for all students as well as providing professional learning communities for teachers.
“When our teachers come together and execute a guaranteed curriculum with engaging learning experiences great things happen,” Van Heukelum said.
Clarke Superintendent Chuck Bishop was pleased to see his division’s improved math and science scores, but CCPS school officials were “collectively disappointed” to see dips in the other subject areas.
“Consistent with statewide trends, our testing data in Clarke reveals that our students with disabilities and those who are economically disadvantaged did not perform as well as our all student subgroup,” Bishop said.
Bishop added that despite the concern, standardized test scores are “only one data point,” noting that 72% of students in the Class of 2019 at Clarke County High School earned an advanced studies diploma compared to a state average of 51%.
Frederick Superintendent for Instruction Jim Angelo said SOL scores are just one measure to consider.
“The released, unadjusted scores only tell part of the story,” Angelo said. “Outcomes for our students with disabilities as well as students identified as economically disadvantaged are higher — in some cases significantly so.”
Angelo added that the Frederick school division’s new strategic plan, Inspire 2025: A Promise for Progress, will guide its process to achieve its goals in four priority areas: student success, culture, strategic partnerships and high quality staff.