Schools must do better

Published 1:44 pm Thursday, November 5, 2015

T here’s no doubt that standardized testing of students in order to rank their school’s achievement based on Virginia’s Standards of Learning (SOL) needs to be constantly re-examined for its effectiveness.

There’s also no doubt in our mind that teachers across Buckingham, Cumberland and Prince Edward counties work very hard to bring a quality education to our youth.

But there’s no doubt that our schools must do better in math and English in order for students to reach their full potential.

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It’s unacceptable that for the second consecutive year, only two schools in our coverage area have been deemed fully accredited by the state Department of Education.

In a story published last Friday, Herald education reporter Italia Gregory dug deep into the pass rate data for each school in each subject.

Not one school in Cumberland met the state’s math benchmark. Only one — Cumberland Middle — met the English benchmark.

Buckingham Elementary — which remains a priority school, meaning it’s within the bottom five percent of performing Title I schools in the state — saw a 66 percent pass rate in English. To meet the benchmark, a 75 percent pass rate is needed. The county’s primary school, even though it doesen’t administer SOLs, gets the same priority school label because of some bureaucratic, draconian federal government policy.

While Prince Edward’s high school achieved full accreditation this year — a huge step in the right direction for the division — its elementary and middle schools were only able to reach a 65 percent pass rate in English, resulting in partial accreditation.

With a community that includes two institutions of higher learning and countless talented teachers and community members, we can do much better than this. The teachers can’t do it alone. It takes all of us being involved in the lives of young people around us as parents, volunteers, brothers, sisters, grandparents and friends.