While scores vary among individual schools, pass rates on Standards of Learning tests in Wise County as a division surpassed or met the state rates in every subject, while Norton city topped the state in all but one content category.
Where city schools missed, they missed big, however, with just 59 percent passing the SOL writing test as compared to 76 percent statewide. The Norton division dropped by five percentage points over its 2017-18 performance in writing and by 10 percentage points over two years ago.
Wise County as a division also dropped in writing pass rates, down 9 percentage points over last year to 76, even though Central and Union high schools each logged 100 percent pass rates. Eastside High School dropped 9 percentage points to 76.
Statewide, the 76 percent English writing pass rate was down from 78 percent the previous year.
In reading, both county and city test scores showed small improvements and were ahead of state pass rates, which showed a small comparable gain. The county division's pass rate was 86, up one percentage point over last year, and Norton's was 83, up 2 percentage points. Statewide, 78 percent of students taking reading tests passed, compared with 79 percent during 2017-18.
Norton's pass rates in science topped both county and state, gaining 4 percentage points over last year to hit 91 percent. The county division had a 90 percent pass rate in science, up one percentage point, while the state pass rate was just 81 percent, unchanged from the previous year.
Wise County led in pass rates on new mathematics tests introduced during 2018-19, with 93 percent, up 3 percentage points. Norton had a pass rate of 87 percent, with an improvement of 5 percentage points over last year. Statewide, 82 percent passed the new mathematics tests, compared with 77 percent last year.
Locally and statewide, overall pass rates in history/social science dropped, although by a little less locally.
The Wise County performance in history showed a 90 percent pass rate, down 3 percentage points. Norton pass rates dipped by 2 percentage points to 86.
Statewide, 80 percent of students tested in history/social science passed, compared with 84 percent in 2017-18.
In its announcement last week, the Virginia Department of Education noted that the results reflect changes in student test-taking patterns last year caused by revisions to the commonwealth’s diploma and school accountability standards, and the introduction of new mathematics tests in all grade levels.
Revisions to the Standards of Accreditation that were approved by the state Board of Education in 2017 and became effective last year reduced the number of SOL tests high school students must pass in order to graduate. Under the revised regulations, students who meet the testing requirement in a content area do not have to take another test in the subject unless additional testing is required for the school to comply with federal testing requirements. Previously, high school students continued to take end-of-course tests even if they had already earned the credits in the content area necessary to graduate.
The 2018-19 school year also saw the introduction of new math SOL tests reflecting revisions to the state mathematics standards approved by the state Board of Education in 2016. The introduction of the new tests marked the end of the three-year transition to the revised standards.
“The achievement in a school, a division or in the commonwealth as a whole must be viewed in the context of these changes in student test-taking patterns, standards and assessments,” Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane said. “These changes were significant and performance on last year’s SOL tests marks the beginning of new trend lines in mathematics, science and history.”
Additional information on the performance of students on SOL tests during 2018-19 — including pass rates for schools and school divisions — is available on the VDOE website and on the online School Quality Profiles.
VDOE will announce school accreditation ratings for the 2019-20 school year in September. Accreditation ratings reflect achievement in English, mathematics and science; student growth toward proficiency in reading and mathematics; progress toward closing achievement gaps in English and mathematics; and other school quality indicators.