‘Few bright spots’

Published 10:45 pm Tuesday, August 20, 2013

SOL results imperil accreditation of more Suffolk schools

Superintendent Deran Whitney’s frank assessment of Suffolk Public Schools’ latest Standards of Learning results leaves little doubt where the division stands.

“Fewer of our schools will be fully accredited,” he confirmed after raising the possibility at this month’s School Board meeting. “Rigor and high-level thinking skills must be our focus.”

Results for 2012-13, released Tuesday by the Virginia Department of Education, offer “few bright spots when you look at just the scores,” Whitney stated.

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“While half of the division-wide math scores reveal a minimal increase, it certainly is not where we would like to be.”

While increases that did occur in math could be seen as a bright spot, reading and writing results left zero room for sugar-coating.

Reading pass rates for grades three through eight were consistently lower than 2011-12, ranging from 64 to 70 percent, down from 83 to 91 percent.

The pass rate on the graduation reading test was 86 percent, a 13-point drop.

For writing, grade five achieved a pass rate of 60 percent — 27 points down.

Suffolk Public Schools was behind the statewide pass rates amid a downward trend for these subjects across Virginia.

Improvements in some areas of math come after markedly lower pass rates in 2011-12 on the heels of a new testing format.

The Algebra I pass rate improved from 63 to 65 percent, and Algebra II from 43 to 45; but Suffolk students still lagged the statewide pass rate of 76 percent for both subjects in 2012-13.

Suffolk students saw modestly improved math pass rates in grades four and eight, but went backward in grades three, five, six and seven, while geometry also fell.

Administrators will tease out the data of each assessment, according to Whitney, and discuss with teachers best practices, what works, and how the instructional program may need to be changed.

“Discussing the need for additional resources must also be considered,” Whitney stated. “We will certainly continue to actively engage parents.

“Students are not learning less, but we need to deepen understanding and increase the rigor of instruction.”

Accreditation results will be released in late September.

Pass rates were lower for all courses at Nansemond River, Suffolk’s last remaining fully-accredited public high school. Other individual schools generally went backward, with occasional modest gains.

To see the division-wide results, click here.

To see the school-level results, by test:

  • Click here for Booker T. Washington Elementary, Creekside Elementary, Driver Elementary, Elephant’s Fork Elementary, Forest Glen Middle, Hillpoint Elementary, John F. Kennedy Middle, John Yeates Middle and Kilby Shores Elementary schools.
  • Click here for King’s Fork High, King’s Fork Middle, Lakeland High, Mack Benn Jr. Elementary, Nansemond Parkway Elementary and Nansemond River High schools.
  • Click here for Northern Shores, Oakland and Southwestern elementary schools.

To see the statewide results, click here.