Determining the effect Investigations has had on 4th Grade SOL scores is going to be difficult because the SOLs have only been given to 4th grade students for 3 years. The Spring of 2006 marked the first year the VA SOL was given to 4th grade students.
Generally test scores increase for a few years following the introduction of a new test before they stabilize because teachers learn what’s on the test and adapt lesson pacing and instruction accordingly. That’s exactly what we’ve seen in PWC. In PWC, Grade 4 Math SOLs, both pass and advanced rates, have increased each year since the SOLs were implemented in Grade 4 in 2006.
So what effect will Investigations have on the Grade 4 Math SOL pass and advanced rates? Much of that depends on what we would have expected had Investigations not been mandated.
By looking at the Grade 4 scores now, and comparing them to Grades 3 and 5, we can develop an expectation of what the Grade 4 scores should be.
In both Grades 3 & 5, grades where the SOL has been given to students for a number of years, the pass rate in PWC has been around 90%. Until 2007, the advanced pass rate in Grade 3 averaged 57%. In grade 5 the advanced pass rate for the past 3 years has averaged 53% (58% achieved an advanced pass rate in grade 5 in 2008).
Grade 4 achieved it’s highest pass and advanced pass rates of 88% and 47%, respectively, in 2008. Because those highs are lower than the average rates achieved in Grades 3 & 5, it’s reasonable to conclude that Grade 4 scores will continue to increase in 2009 by approximately 2 to 5%, respectively. We’d expect Grade 4 pass rates to be around 90% and advanced pass rates to be between 53 and 57%.
So what happened with Grade 4 SOL scores in 2009? We won’t know that until August when the VA DOE releases 2009 test scores. But if Grade 4 pass and advanced pass rates are unchanged or decline, we may have cause for concern.
The file below contains the Math SOL scores for each school in PWC for Grade 4.