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Virginia SOL results posted for schools across the Commonwealth

SOL testing results released
SOL testing results released (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - The Standards of Learning (SOL) results were released by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Tuesday. Students take the controversial tests every spring measuring English, math, science and history.

Locally in Roanoke City, 8th grade reading and writing scores were up at all schools except Stonewall Jackson. Scores were up for all tests except Geography and Earth Science. Martinsville has several areas where average test scores dropped: Reading, writing, Virginia studies, World History I & II, Geography, Chemistry, and Earth Science. Eighth grade reading and writing however were both up.

In Lynchburg, 8th grade writing was flat from last year with reading up. Test scores dropped in World History II, Geometry and Earth Science.

In Roanoke County, 8th grade reading and writing were both up. Areas where scores were down were Geography, Virginia and U.S. History, Algebra I and Earth Science. In Montgomery County, 8th grade reading and writing both up. Scores were down in Virginia and U.S. History, World History I & II, and Chemistry.

For more information about SOL pass rates, see 2014-2015 SOL pass rates for schools, school divisions and the commonwealth.

According to the Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples, student achievement in 2014-2015 on SOL tests represents significant progress in the commonwealth's effort to better prepare students for success in college and careers.

The results show, statewide, students posted five-point overall gains in reading and mathematics, while achievement increased by two points each in writing, science and history.

The 2014-2015 school year was the first during which students in grades 3-8 were allowed to retake SOL tests in reading, mathematics, science and history. The results showed, on average, the performance of students on expedited retakes increased pass rates by about four points on each test.

The results show, statewide, 79 percent of students passed the mathematics test for their grade level or course, compared with 74 percent during 2013-2014, and 68 percent in 2011-2012, when Virginia introduced new mathematics tests that require students to apply critical-thinking skills and their knowledge of grade-level or course content to solve multi-step problems.

Students in grades 3, 6, 7 and 8 led the way with seven-point improvements, followed by a six-point gain by fifth graders. Students achieved pass rates of 80 percent or higher on the Algebra I, Algebra II and Geometry end-of-course tests that are tied to the commonwealth's diploma requirements.

In reading, 79 percent of students passed the test for their grade level, an increase of five points over 2013-2014, and 77 percent passed in writing, an increase of two points. More challenging English reading and writing SOL tests were introduced in 2012-2013.

For comparison in 2014: More from the VDOE website.

African-American and Hispanic students made progress toward closing achievement gaps in both mathematics and reading. Overall performance of African-American students in mathematics improved by seven points in 2014-2015. Since 2011-2012 — when the new mathematics SOL tests were first administered — black students have narrowed the achievement gap with white students in the subject by five points.  Black students achieved a six-point gain in reading in 2014-2015. The gap in reading between black and white students has narrowed by two points since more challenging reading tests were introduced.

Hispanic students achieved six-point gains in both mathematics and reading, and have narrowed the achievement gap with white students by two points in both subjects since the introduction of more challenging assessments.

Achievement increased on four of the five SOL science tests and was up by two points overall. Fifth-grade students achieved the largest gain at six points. Eighth graders achieved a four-point gain. Achievement was up by one point on the Biology and Chemistry end-of-course tests and was flat in Earth Science. Science tests introduced in 2012-2013 also include items that require students to apply content knowledge in solving multi-step problems.

The SOL tests are controversial and many parents and educators say schools are teaching to the test instead of teaching students to think critically and giving students real life skills that will be needed after graduation. In 2014, the General Assembly reduced the total number of tests from 34 to 29 and created the SOL Innovation Committee tasked with finding ways to improve the standardized tests.

For comparison in 2014: across the Commonwealth scores in reading, writing and science were relatively flat compared with the year before and math scores improved for the most part. Roanoke City saw gains in every category except writing. Dr. Bishop said she hoped the 8th grade laptop initiative would boost scores for the 2014-2015 school year. Roanoke County scores dropped by two points in every content area expect math, where scores went up. They planned to focus on pre-k to third grade education to help test scores. 

State accreditation and federal accountability ratings will be released later this fall.

For more information about SOL pass rates, see 2014-2015 SOL pass rates for schools, school divisions and the commonwealth.