Official SOL results: Two high schools warned

Published 10:43 pm Wednesday, September 26, 2012

As anticipated, two of Suffolk’s high schools have been accredited with warning after failing to meet benchmarks set forth by the state for mathematics standardized test scores.

Official results released Wednesday show King’s Fork and Lakeland high schools have been accredited with warning, which means they will undergo academic reviews and be required to implement school improvement plans and proven instructional programs.

King’s Fork and Lakeland earned pass rates of 48 and 51, respectively, on the math Standards of Learning tests. A pass rate of 70 was required to be fully accredited.

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Math scores fell across the state as students grappled with a more rigorous test that required more critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, including items requiring students to order answers, create graphs, plot points on a grid and answer open-ended questions by typing an answer into a blank, rather than choosing from multiple-choice answers.

Both King’s Fork and Lakeland also missed full accreditation last year, but because of graduation rates rather than standardized test performance. Their graduation rates met the mark this year.

Suffolk Public Schools Superintendent Deran Whitney hailed the graduation rate improvement — and the full accreditation of the other 17 schools — as good news, but acknowledged there still is work to do.

“The rigor of the new Standards of Learning in mathematics caused the two schools to miss the mark this year,” he wrote in an emailed statement. “To change next year’s results to 100-percent full accreditation, a division-wide math improvement plan is currently being implemented, including school-specific, grade-specific and skill-specific measures based on test results.”

Statewide, 93 percent of the state’s public schools were fully accredited, but nearly 41 percent reached full accreditation only by averaging the last three years’ math scores.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright partially attributed the decrease in fully-accredited schools to the new math standards.

“We can expect a similar impact next year when we see the results of schools implementing more rigorous standards and tests in English and science this school year,” she said in a press release.

However, other state officials said the additional rigor would help students be better prepared for life beyond high school.

“Even with three-year averaging, the board’s move to more rigorous standards will continue to present accreditation challenges for many of the commonwealth’s schools,” Board of Education President David M. Foster said in the press release. “We are confident, however, that over the long haul our graduates will be better prepared to succeed in college and the work place.”