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On Tuesday, August 14, 2012, the Virginia Department of Education released Standards of Learning test pass rates for all schools and divisions, and Norfolk Public Schools' results are providing a glimpse of the path NPS must take to ensure that all students begin to meet and then exceed state standards.
Many Norfolk schools posted gains in the core content areas, which are English (reading and writing), math, history and science. A majority of elementary schools, for example, showed increases in science pass rates.
Lafayette-Winona Middle School, which was denied state accreditation last year, had significant improvements in all core subject areas except math. Lindenwood Elementary School also posted gains in all areas except math.
The results also show the work ahead. In all content and grade levels, Norfolk Public Schools is not yet at the state average. Superintendent Samuel T. King said he and his team are now reviewing the data in detail to determine what Norfolk Public Schools’ targets for improvement will be.
"We have closely monitored and reviewed the data over the past several weeks, and we know that we have areas of concern across all levels - elementary, middle and high schools," said Dr. Samuel T. King, Superintendent of Schools. "We know, for example, that the new Virginia math assessments posed significant challenges for our students.
"We have begun the process of addressing the concerns. We are determining our specific targets for increasing the number of students who meet and then exceed standards. We are identifying action steps that will allow us to meet the targets. It will be extremely important for this organization to continuously disaggregate the data so that we are totally prepared to address the needs of individual students across all subgroups."
Virginia required all students to take new math assessments in 2011-12, and scores across the state dropped.
Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright said that the performance of students on the new state mathematics assessments introduced provides a "solid foundation" for future achievement.
"Virginia teachers and students worked hard throughout the school year - and for many, into the summer - to meet the Board of Education's challenging new mathematics standards," Wright said. "While we have a long climb before we reach the achievement levels we hope to see on the new mathematics tests, the results released today represent a good start and provide a solid foundation for further progress in 2012-2013."
Dr. King said he is very confident that with excellent instructional leadership this year, Norfolk Public Schools can begin to move all students toward reaching standards. Dr. King and his team are compiling a division action plan, which will have basic, prescriptive steps for aligning instruction to the state standards, and for measuring to ensure that students are mastering the content.
The team will look for research-based interventions that will assist students who are not on standard.
“The standards are there,” Dr. King said. “It’s a matter of teaching them and measuring them.”
The SOL test pass rates will help determine state accreditation status for all Virginia schools. Accreditation ratings are due to be released in September.
Dr. King said preliminary projections show that 26 out of 33 elementary schools, two out of seven middle schools and three of five high schools will be fully accredited.
Norfolk’s high schools have achieved significant improvements in the state's Graduation and Completion Index, which will be counted along with SOL test scores at the high school level to determine each school's accreditation status this fall.