In the June Crozet Gazette article, “McDermid in the Running for White Hall School Board Seat,” candidate Dr. Joann McDermid, who is running in the White Hall district, stated that 49% of students taking Algebra I at Western Albemarle High School (WAHS) failed to pass the Algebra I SOL.
This makes it sound like 49% of kids at WAHS are failing basic high school math.
This data point, while technically accurate, misrepresents how kids at Western are actually performing.
During the 21-22 school year cited in Dr. McDermid’s data, there were only 38 Algebra I students at WAHS out of a freshman class of 307 (and a student body of over 1,150).
Why are only 12% of WAHS freshmen taking this essential math class? Because the other 270 students took Algebra I—and in some cases, Algebra I AND Geometry—while they were in middle school, so their scores are not reported in the high school data.
This means that ~19 students did not pass the Algebra I SOL in 2022. (It is unclear if all 38 took the test.)
Obviously, we want every child to succeed, and failing to pass the Algebra I SOL is a big deal for these 19 kids. This data indicates the need for individualized instruction to ensure that every child graduates from ACPS with computational, logical reasoning, and critical thinking skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.
It is not, however, evidence of a school-wide failure to teach kids math in the Western feeder pattern when, in fact, most kids enter Western with at least one HS math credit already on their transcript!
We need School Board members who will be honest with the public about both the areas for improvement and strengths in our schools, rather than cherry-picking data to fit a preconceived political narrative, and we need local journalists who will dig into data to ensure that the story being reported is the whole story.
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