Monday, June 10, 2013

Virginia Anticipates Lower Initial SOL Exam Scores

Students now matching wits with the first SOL exams to reflect more rigorous Virginia English and Science standards are likely to receive lower scores than those tested in previous years, according to Virginia Education officials.

June 7, 2013

A Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) statement points to fall-winter results on the new tests for those school divisions that, unlike PWCS, operate on a semester schedule. Based on those early outcomes, VDOE concludes that some test takers are likely to be disappointed by this year’s results. Initial samples showed pass rates declining from the previous year, though not as significantly as when new math Virginia math expectations were first implemented. "Retake" options and multi-year averaging of division results will help prevent students or school dristricts from being unduly penalized for the expected decline.

PWCS teachers worked hard all year in keeping with the goals of the higher Virginia standards, to give students more information and the improved ability to use and express it.

Based on very preliminary results from recent testing here, PWCS is seeing:
  • Writing performance trends similar to those observed by the state;
  • 5th grade writing pass rates on par with rates cited in the Virginia statement;
  • 8th grade writing pass rates slightly higher than those in the Virginia statement;
  • High school students taking new end of year course Writing test passing at a slightly higher rate than cited in the state document.
It is important to note that these preliminary observations will undoubtedly change as actual results are reported in Prince William County and continue from other parts of Virginia that were not a part of the previous statewide samples. Parents and students need to take 2013 test results in stride, say Virginia officials. Prince William County educators agree.

“Whatever the final numbers show must be considered in context,” says PWCS Superintendent Steve Walts. “Small near term declines in pass rates, if they occur, should not obscure the reality that the higher standards are giving students greater ability to make use of what they learned. We are teaching them more and requiring them to do more because what they gain will last a lifetime.”


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