Two schools meet the mark — divisions falter in English and math pass rates
Published 12:10 pm Thursday, October 29, 2015
Only Prince Edward and Buckingham high schools earned full state accreditation in The Herald’s coverage area based on student performance during last school year’s Standard of Learning (SOL) tests.
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Other schools — including all in Cumberland — gained only partial accreditation, according to data released by the state Department of Education on Tuesday afternoon.
For elementary and middle schools to be fully accredited by the state, students must achieve at least a 75 percent English pass rate, a 70 percent math pass rate, a 70 percent science pass rate and a 70 percent history pass rate. High schools must achieve a pass rate of 75 percent English and 70 percent in mathematics, science and history and attain a point value of 85 or greater based on the Graduation and Completion Index (GCI).
Prince Edward’s high school met all benchmarks in English, math, history and science, according to the data. Both the elementary and middle schools fell short in English while meeting other state benchmarks.
In English, Prince Edward High School students achieved 76 percent pass rate. The school’s pass rate was 77 percent in math, 80 percent in history and 78 percent in science.
The school also met the benchmark for graduation and completion registering at 89 points. According to Division Superintendent Dr. David Smith, the high school was warned last year in math.
Prince Edward’s elementary and middle schools were both deemed partially accredited because of its pass rates. Both schools failed to meet the 75 percent benchmark in English. The elementary school met the math benchmark with a 77 percent pass rate. The middle school finished strong with a 70 percent pass rate in math, 77 percent in history and 74 percent in science. Smith said last year the elementary and middles schools were warned in English and math.
Smith credits the division’s improvements in changing the master schedule, adopting a modified 10-point grading scale and implementing support teams as a proactive approach to aid struggling students.
The division as a whole didn’t meet all federal Annual Measurable Objectives, or AMOs, which are based on reading and math scores for all students, three “Proficiency Gap Groups” and other subgroups. The division missed four in reading and one in math, while the high school failed to meet two Federal Graduation Indicator subgroups. The middle school failed to meet four AMOs in reading and one in math. The elementary school met all federal AMOs.
Buckingham’s primary, elementary and middle schools fell short in English. All of the division’s schools met the state benchmarks in math, history and science.
Buckingham Primary and Elementary were both again named priority schools, meaning they’re in the lowest-performing five percent of Title I schools in the state. Such schools must engage a state-approved turnaround partner to help design and implement school-reform models that meet state and federal requirements.
The county’s high school exceeded the state’s accreditation benchmark with an 85 percent pass rate in English, 82 percent in math, 82 percent in history and 78 percent in science. The benchmark for graduation and completion was met at 92 points.
The school’s English pass rate dropped slightly from 88 percent last year, but increased in math. Scores in history and science also fell. The benchmark for graduation and completion decreased from last year’s 93 point index.
The county’s middle school received a rating of partially accredited. The benchmark in English was just slightly missed with a 73 percent pass rate. Benchmarks were met with an 84 percent pass rate in math, 79 percent in history and 74 percent in science. “Buckingham Middle School moved from a warning in reading last year to partially accredited in reading — approaching benchmark this year,” Division Superintendent Dr. Cecil Snead said. He said the reading pass rate represented a significant increase from last year’s 66 percent. The school’s pass rate in math increased from last year’s 83 percent.
The state termed Buckingham Elementary as being partially accredited because of its English pass rates. The students achieved a 66 percent pass rate in English, falling short of the required 75 percent. The school scores 75 percent in math, 87 percent in history and 71 percent in science.
According to Snead, Buckingham Elementary and Primary — which does not administer SOL tests — are listed separately by the state Department of Education.
“The federal government … requires that the primary school receive the same priority [as the elementary school] labeling for reporting purposes,” Snead said. “This means that when the federal government interprets the results from the grade 3-5 tests, the primary [kindergarten through second grade] school’s labeling will look like grades 3-5 … So, one could argue that it appears that we have two schools in priority status, when we concretely only have one school that is tested.”
Once a school is labeled as a priority school, the label is kept for at least three years, regardless of the progress. “What should be noted is the [elementary] school is labeled as a priority because at one time the reading and math tests scored in the bottom five percent. Our test scores at the elementary school have not been in that bottom five percent since that one time,” Snead said.
The elementary school’s pass rates increased significantly from last year’s 56 percent in English, 65 percent in math and 81 percent history. Only science decreased compared to last year’s 76 percent.
The division didn’t meet two federal AMOs in math and reading, and both the primary and elementary schools missed two AMOs in reading and one in math. The middle missed one AMO in reading while the high schools met all objectives.
Cumberland Elementary fell short in English and math while the middle school didn’t make the benchmarks in science, math or English. Cumberland’s high school only fell short in math.
Cumberland Elementary has been named a focus school, meaning it’s in the 10 percent of Title I schools selected on the basis of achievement gaps. Such schools must state-approved school-improvement coaches.
“While we look to continue to improve SOL pass rates, we are cognizant that our purpose is to prepare all students to be productive learners, workers and citizens in an innovative economy,” Division Superintendent Dr. Amy Griffin said. “This takes more than good SOL pass rates.”
Cumberland County High School achieved an 84 percent pass rate in English, 79 percent in history and 83 percent in science. The school only fell behind in math with a score of 63 percent, which did not meet the state benchmark.
“We are confident that the high school will meet all benchmarks this year and will continue the high expectations and success in graduation rates and workforce preparation that we have held over the past several years,” Griffin said.
Cumberland High met the benchmark for graduation and completion at 91 points.
Cumberland Elementary fell significantly behind with a score of 59 percent in English — failing to meet the state benchmark — and a 65 percent pass rate in math.
“English and math scores increased at [Cumberland County Elementary School] with English increasing from 56 percent to 59 percent and math increasing from 61 percent to 65 percent,” Griffin said.
Cumberland Middle School saw an increase from last year’s scores in all areas of testing; however, the school only met the state benchmark in history with a 78 percent pass rate. The school didn’t meet the pass rate in English, math or science. “All four content areas saw an increase in pass rates at the middle school,” Griffin said.
The division as a whole didn’t meet six AMOs in reading and two math. The elementary school failed to meet four federal reading and two math benchmarks, and the middle school missed three federal reading and one math benchmark. The high school missed three AMOs in math.