Thank you for generating broader community interest in our student assessments of academic progress, most particularly your September story on standards of learning (SOL) pass rates in our division.
As noted in the article, we do not usually issue news releases on SOL scores, but we made an exception on September 22. That’s when we reported that all of our schools were accredited but that test results for several student demographic groups were below division and statewide averages.
On September 22, I said that as superintendent and as a long-time staff member of Albemarle County Public Schools, I own these results. They are unacceptable and do not in any way reflect on the efforts or abilities of our students, families and educators. They do reflect the inability of our current systems to produce the results we are seeking and clearly demonstrate the need for these systems to immediately change.
To accelerate this change, we are proceeding with an outside, independent audit of our reading and math instructional programs from kindergarten through fifth grade as well as Algebra I, classroom practices, our intervention and support models, and our staffing. I also am appointing a task force of teachers, specialists, central office staff and community partners, to offer counsel in developing the scope of the audit and to review its results in order to offer recommendations for short- and long-term improvements.
It’s important to note there are two separate occasions when the state releases SOL test scores. The first is in August when scores are unadjusted for growth. This equates to a simple pass and fail calculation. The second is in September, when the state issues its accreditation report, based on scores adjusted by the Virginia Department of Education. This means the state credits improvements in a student’s test score, even if the student does not reach a passing score. This is useful in assessing the effectiveness of teaching strategies and practices in promoting consistent academic progress.
When we provided a response for your September story, the state had not yet publicly released the adjusted test scores so we were not able to provide more comprehensive data.
As pointed out in your story, we are seeing learning improvements in our underrepresented student groups but not enough and not soon enough. We have pledged that working together as a team, we will end the predictive value of race, class, gender, and special capacities for our children’s success through high-quality teaching and learning for all. We seek to build relationships with families and communities to ensure that every student succeeds.
Our commitment to achieving this mission, our devotion to matching words with actions and our investments of resources to enable every child to achieve at their highest potential will remain our top priority.
Dr. Matthew Haas
Albemarle County Public Schools