New SOL Exam Pass Rate Targets For VA Public Schools

The VA DOE has issued the new SOL exam pass rate targets for Virginia public schools (see here).  Target pass percentages have been set for new student subgroups which include: all students; all black, white, Hispanic, and Asian students, all special education (SPED), English language learners (ELL), economically disadvantaged students (ED), and what the DOE is calling proficiency Group 1, which is an aggregate of SPED, ELL, and ED students.

Reading targets are available for the 2011 – 2012 school year, the school year we just completed and will be updated next year when the 2012 – 2013 SY SOL exam results are available.  Math targets have been issued through the 2016 – 2017 school year.

Twilight is to College Bound Kids What Twinkies are to Marathoners

“Preparing them for a college education with “Twilight” is like preparing a marathoner with Twinkies.”

This line is from Alexander Nazaryan in her article, “Against Captain Underpants: How we are raising a generation of illiterates”, published in the NY Daily News. It comes just days after an op-ed by Dr Sandra Stotsky in Bloomberg stating that “New Reading Teachers Should Pass a Reading Test“.

Why so much interest in reading proficiency? Perhaps it’s because of a recent study demonstrating that the average American High School student reads at a 5th grade level.

“The republic cannot flourish in the 21st century, no matter how much time English or reading teachers spend teaching ‘21st century skills’ . . . if the bulk of our population is reading at or below the fifth-grade level.” — Dr Strotsky

Food for thought folks. If you have high school students who hope to go to college one day, you may want to check their school reading lists.  And if they’re long on books like Twilight, The Hunger Games, or Harry Potter and short on books like To Kill and Mocking Bird, The Great Gatsby, 1776, or Don Quixote, you may want to have a word with your child’s teacher.

Just because reading books like The Great Gatsby are a little boring and harder to get through than Harry Potter,  doesn’t mean our children shouldn’t be required to read The Great Gatsby and other classics, if for no other reason than to help them develop the habits of the mind that require them to pay attention to a task for more than a few minutes and extend themselves beyond their comfort zone.  Complacency isn’t a skill many employers desire, and it’s not a habit many successful people possess.

Woo Hoo! SAT Reading Scores Lowest Ever!!!

Now that’s something to brag about – assuming your objective is a functionally illiterate population. Otherwise, it pretty much stinks.

From the AP:

SAT reading scores fall to lowest level on record

“Scores on the critical reading portion of the SAT college entrance exam fell three points to their lowest level on record last year, and combined reading and math scores reached their lowest point since 1995.”

Reading SOL scores across the county were down last year, declines which were not duplicated at the state level. That could be because the test had some more difficult questions or because our childrens’ reading proficiency is declining. Maybe our school board should consider asking a few questions about our SOL scores and what steps the district is taking to fill gaps.

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