Scores remain largely stable, with some significant losses in Petersburg

Standards of Learning data for the 2016-17 school year released Tuesday morning by the Virginia Department of Education show largely steady scores throughout the region with the exception of significant declines in several subjects in Petersburg City Public Schools.

Although Petersburg’s reading scores stayed fairly steady, with the division’s pass rate ticking up only one point from 60 percent to 61 percent, the division’s math, science and history scores were down compared to last year. Math showed the biggest slump, dropping from a 62 percent pass rate in 2015-16 to a 52 percent pass rate in 2016-17. Science scores also fell from 64 to 59 percent, and history scores from 66 to 62 percent.

Within the region, Chesterfield and Prince George County schools led the pack. Both divisions’ scores on all four subjects of reading, math, science and history held relatively steady in the mid-80s, although Prince George’s math score dropped slightly from 83 to 81 percent and its history score peaked at 91 percent, the best in the Tri-Cities area.

Hopewell City Public Schools saw a significant gain in reading, with the number of students passing the reading SOL rising from 65 percent in 2015-16 to 69 percent in 2016-17, a jump perhaps linked to the division’s heightened focus on literacy in the past year. Hopewell’s math score rose slightly, from 71 to 73 percent, and its science score dropped slightly, from 72 to 70 percent. The history pass rate remained steady at 76 percent.

While scores remained overall high compared to the region, just below most of those reported for Chesterfield and Prince George, Colonial Heights Public Schools showed one- to three-percentage-point declines in all four subjects, with the largest drop occurring in the science pass rate, from 87 percent to 84 percent.

Finally, Dinwiddie scores also remained overall steady, with small gains in reading (which rose from 75 to 78 percent) and math (76 to 78 percent). The science pass rate dropped from 78 to 75 percent, while history scores ticked upward from 83 to 84 percent.

Statewide, Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples noted a “long-term upward trend” in student scores in math, English and science since 2012 and 2013, when the current fleet of SOL tests was introduced. That pattern, he said in a press release, “is far more important than a snapshot for a single year and reflects the hard work of thousands of teachers, principals and other educators and their dedication to helping students meet high expectations.”

State accreditation ratings will be announced by the Virginia Department of Education in mid-September. These ratings reflect not only the prior year’s performance but also school achievement over the past three-year period, with adjustments for interventions and school population. State benchmarks generally require that school pass rates exceed 70 percent in math, science and history, and 75 percent in reading.

To view the original story by Sarah Vogelsong at the Progress Index, please click here.