2007-10-24 / Family

County students' test scores continue inching forward

Progress is still needed in some subject areas
By Donna C. Gregory NEWS EDITOR

Most county schools made adequate yearly progress (AYP) this year as required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), but the school system faces even tougher standards next year. Twenty-two of the school system's 62 schools will not make AYP next year unless Standards of Learning (SOL) test scores rise.

The most recent data shows only four county schools - Matoaca Middle, Providence Middle, Salem Church Middle and Meadowbrook High - didn't make AYP for this year.

All county schools earned accreditation this year, but three are accredited with warning due to low test scores in certain subjects. They include Falling Creek Middle (math), Salem Middle (math and history) and Meadowbrook High (science).

County students are also not fairing as well on SAT tests as their peers nationally, but they are holding their own when it comes to taking the ACT test.

These results and others were revealed to school board members at their meeting earlier this month by Lin Corbin-Howerton, director of school improvement and instructional support. Corbin-Howerton's annual assessment report touched on a host of scores used to test student achievement before coming to the following conclusions:

• The school system continues to make steady improvement on SOL tests.

• But, the same curriculum that's been successful at increasing SOL scores isn't correlating to higher achievement on the SAT test.

• The school system will continue pushing students to take advanced placement (AP) and honors classes, since those that do generally perform better on the SAT.

• And, the school system continues to see achievement gaps among disabled, economically disadvantaged and minority students.

Below are some of the other highlights from the assessment report:

• SOL scores in reading continue to steadily increase. In 2007, 90 percent of students passed the SOL reading test, up from 86 percent and 87 percent in 2005 and 2006 respectively.

• Progress has also been made on SOL mathematics tests with 83 percent of students earning a passing score this year - up from 77 percent in 2006.

• History and science SOL pass rates saw a similar trend with 90 percent and 91 percent of students passing those tests respectively.

• NCLB sets steadily tougher benchmarks each year, requiring schools to continue to score higher and higher on standardized tests to make AYP. If students at five elementary schools, 10 middle schools and 7 high schools (see box) fail to increase their scores next year, those schools will not make AYP.

• There continue to be achievement gaps in how students score on both reading and math SOL tests. Ninety-three percent of white students passed the reading SOL compared to only 84 percent of black students and 82 percent of Hispanic students. Only 70 percent of students with disabilities, 79 percent of economically disadvantaged students and 75 percent of limited English-speaking students passed their reading SOL tests. In math, 88 percent of white students earned a passing score compared to 74 percent of black students and 77 percent of Hispanic students. Only 62 percent of disabled students, 70 percent of economically disadvantaged students and 76 percent of limited English-speaking students passed their math SOL tests.

• More students are taking the ACT test. Last year, 784 graduates took the ACT test compared to 603 in 2006. County students consistently beat national average scores. The school system is encouraging students to consider taking the ACT test since students appear to perform better on that test than on the SAT, and it is accepted by most colleges.

• Students who take AP or honors courses tend to score higher on SAT tests in the same subject. For example, students who took an English AP or honors course scored an average of 46 points higher than students who had four years of traditional English classes. Students who took an AP or honors math class scored an average of 14 points higher on the math portion of the SAT.

2006-07 Average SAT scores
Chesterfield Virginia Nation
Critical reading 503 511 502
Math 502 511 515
Writing 486 498 494
Source: Chesterfield County Public Schools

2007 ACT test scores
Chesterfield Virginia Nation
Composite 21.5 21.4 21.2
English 21.2 21.0 20.7
Math 21.3 21.2 21.0
Reading 21.7 21.7 21.5
Science 21.3 21.1 21.0
Source: Chesterfield County Public Schools

Headed for trouble?

The following schools won't make adequate yearly progress next year unless their Standards of Learning test scores rise:

Elementary Davis, Ettrick, Gates, Henning and Marguerite Christian

Middle Bailey Bridge, Carver, Chester, Falling Creek, Manchester, Matoaca Providence, Robious Salem Church and Swift Creek

High Bird, Clover Hill, Community, Manchester Meadowbrook, Monacan and Thomas Dale

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