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Scores show ‘room for improvement’

A review of preliminary Prince Edward County Public Schools (PECPS) Standards of Learning (SOL) results from the spring shows that the schools have improved in some areas while other areas will require additional focus. 

Dr. Barbara Johnson

“We are mindful that while evaluation is certainly important, test scores do not define us,” said PECPS Division Superintendent Dr. Barbara Johnson. “We are Eagles, and we are ready to quickly change our pace and direction to meet our goals.”

According to a press release, scores at Prince Edward County Elementary School (PECES) showed that more work needs to be done.

“Prince Edward County Middle School (PECMS) had gains in mathematics, but the preliminary reports show room for improvement in English and science scores,” officials said in a press release. “At Prince Edward County High School (PECHS), preliminary reports show an increase in English scores, but opportunities for growth in mathematics, social studies and science.”

The release cited while official results will not be released by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) until later this month, teachers and administrators have already started working to address areas where improvement is needed.

Division spokeswoman Jennifer Kinne said the division won’t know how much the scores will help or hurt accreditation rankings for each school until official scores come in.

Currently, PECHS is “Fully Accredited” as ranked by the VDOE for the 2016-17 school year, which was based off of test scores from the 2015-16 school year. PECES is currently “Partially Accredited: Reconstituted,” which, in a previous interview, Johnson confirmed had been received due to not meeting the state-set English benchmark.

During a meeting in March, Dr. Greg Wheeler, the division’s director of accountability and research, said the reconstitution agreement between the VDOE and the division included developing, implementing and monitoring a process to ensure lesson planning and delivery is aligned to the state’s SOL in content and cognition.

PECMS is currently “Partially Accredited: Warned School-Pass Rate.”

According to the VDOE website, school accreditation ratings for 2016-17 are based on student achievement on SOL tests and other tests in English, mathematics, history/social science and science administered during 2015-16 or on overall achievement during the three most recent years. The website cited that the results of tests administered in each subject area are combined to produce overall passing percentages in English, mathematics, history/social science and science.

For elementary and middle schools, the pass rate for English SOLs are 75 percent or higher, mathematics is 70 percent or higher, science is 70 percent or higher and history is 70 percent or higher. High school accreditation is based on SOLs for English being 75 percent or higher and 70 percent or high for mathematics, science and history as well as maintaining a point value of 85 or greater based on the Graduation and Completion Index (GCI).

English pass rates at PECES, which was 68, and PECMS, which was 67, for the 2016-17 school were below the required pass rate.

The latest release cited teachers have been working hard to ensure that their lessons and instruction are aligned to the standards and will continue to analyze the data to identify focus areas for the upcoming school year.

“In addition, the division has hired staff, such as math and reading coaches, that will provide additional support to the teachers in these areas,” officials said in the release. “Each school will be refining their respective school improvement plans to develop strategies to improve student learning in all areas.”