PWC 2009 SOL Scores

The revised 2009 SOL scores have been out for several weeks. Our analysis of the PWC scores is below.

In Grade 3 PWC is passing approximately the same percentage of students as before Investigations was mandated. The percentage of students achieving an advanced pass score dropped sharply the year before Investigations was mandated and, rather then rebounding, dropped an additional 1% in 2009. In 2009 13% fewer PWC third graders achieved an advanced pass score than did in 2005.  This trend of decreasing percentages of students achieving an advanced pass rate appears in almost every PWC elementary school.  That’s a trend which needs to be addressed and rectified.

In Grade 4 the percentage of students passing the exam was up 1% and the percentage of students achieving an advanced score was up 2%  from the previous year.  The percentage of Grade 4 students passing or achieving an advanced pass score also increased state-wide.  The Grade 4 exam was implemented state-wide in the Spring of 2006.  Since the exam was implemented, pass and advanced pass rates have been increasing each year. However, in both PWCand the state, the pass and advanced pass rates for Grade 4 lag slightly behind those rates in Grade 3 and 5.  Despite increasing  slightly this year, Grade 4 pass rates in PWC still lag behind Grades 3 & 5 and Grade 4 advanced pass rates still lag behind Grade 5.

Grade 5 didn’t have Investigations, except in the pilot schools and classrooms. Grade 5 pass and advanced pass rates have continued to increase each year and continued that upward trend in 2009.  93% of PWC 5th graders passed the SOL and 62% achieved an advanced pass score.

A more detailed analysis of PWC’s scores is below.

LEP students in Virginia are given a one year exclusion from having their SOL scores included in the school and district overall scores. In 2007, the state dropped that exception for math and required that school districts include LEP students scores for math in their overall SOL scores. That has made comparing overall scores from 2006 and 2005 to scores in 2008 and 2009 difficult because the way the data was complied changed.

The state has allowed LEP students to be tested with the VGLA as opposed to the SOL. PWC has always tested LEP students with the VGLA, but increased the number of LEP students tested with the VGLA this year. Because of that change and the percentage of LEP students in PWC schools, comparing overall scores from 2008 to 2009 was difficult.

The state provides aggregated scores for many groups. Because of the changes in tests and the manner in which the data have been aggregated, our analysis this year focuses on the LEP and non-LEP groups, as reported by the state DOE.

Analysis
There are two different ways of looking at trend data – comparing the same grade year by year and comparing a group of students as they move throuhg the school system (a cohort).

By Cohort
Our last non-Investigations grade just moved to Middle School. For this group of students, about 2% more passed the SOL in Grade 5 2009 than passed it in Grade 3. About 13% more achieved an advanced score. This trend is consistent with the trend at the state level where pass and advanced rates increase from Grade 3 to Grade 5.

In this cohort (group) 90% overall passed the Grade 3 SOL in 2007, 88% passed the Grade 4 SOL in 2008, and 93% passed the Grade 5 SOL in 2009. Advanced pass rates for this cohort were 49% in Grade 3 in 2007, 47% in Grade 4 in 2008, and 62% in Grade 5 in 2009.

Our first all-Investigations group of students took the Grade 4 SOL in the Spring. In this cohort (group) 90% passed the Grade 3 SOL in 2008 and 89% passed the Grade 4 SOL in 2009. The percentage of students from this cohort achieving an advanced pass in this cohort was 49% in Grade 3 in 2008 and 49% in Grade 4 in 2009.

Because the test for Grade 4 is still new, it’s difficult to draw conclusions. We can however, based on prior trends, expect that about 92 – 93% of these students will pass the Grade 5 SOL in the Spring and that 62 – 63% will achieve an advanced score.

Because of the newness of the Grade 4 test and limited post Investigations data, it’s difficult to note trends in the SOL scores on a cohort by cohort basis.

Grade Level Analysis
In one given year a group of students might struggle more than another and have lower scores, but you expect that scores will then rebound in the following year. Because of that, when comparing scores within a given grade from year to year we look back several years to see if we can note trends.

In our analysis, because of the changes in the tests and manner in which overall scores are aggregated, we focused on the LEP and non-LEP trends. Because Investigations won’t be used county-wide in Grade 5 until this Fall and Grade 4 is still a new test and only has one year of comparative data, we focused on Grade 3 trends.

While PWC’s scores have fluctuated, very slightly, both pass and advanced pass rates are trending downward and have been for a couple of years.

Grade 3 LEP pass rates from 2005 to 2009 are:

  • 2005 86%
  • 2006 87%
  • 2007 86%
  • 2008 83%
  • 2009 86%

Grade 3 Non-LEP pass rates 2005 to 2009 are:

  • 2005 92%
  • 2006 93%
  • 2007 92%
  • 2008 92%
  • 2009 91%

That’s not too shocking – LEP pass rates have rebounded to 2005 levels and Non-LEP pass rates are only 1 point lower. But the percentage of students achieving a pass advanced score is more telling. What constitutes an advanced pass score varies from year to year, but in general it’s a score of 501 or more out of 600 (about 84%).

Grade 3 LEP advanced pass rates from 2005 to 2009 are:

  • 2005 38%
  • 2006 37%
  • 2007 32%
  • 2008 27%
  • 2009 34%

Grade 3 Non-LEP advanced pass rates 2005 to 2009 are:

  • 2005 66%
  • 2006 62%
  • 2007 55%
  • 2008 56%
  • 2009 53%

Even overall advanced pass rates are down considerably since 2005. Overall Grade 3 pass advanced rates from 2005 to 2009 are:

  • 2005 61%
  • 2006 56%
  • 2007 49%
  • 2008 49%
  • 2009 48%

While advanced pass rates are down at the state level as well, the trend isn’t as pronounced as it is in PWC. So, while the county may be passing approximately the same percentage of students since it mandated Investigations, the percentage of students achieving an advanced score is declining.

The detailed file can be found here.

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2 Responses to “PWC 2009 SOL Scores”

  1. Ed Says:

    It takes a while for trends to become apparent.
    Unfortunately, the current guinea pigs will probably be in remedial math in high school before enough people smell a rat.
    Of course by then, the rats in question will already have jumped the sinking ship..

  2. Paul Says:

    I agree with Ed. It takes a while for trends to become apparent.

    For instance, look at county average SAT scores. I found those scores every year since 1973, on the website of a group that seems to understand how to calibrate scores to compensate for all the changes to the test over the years.

    The PWC scores have been rather consistent, though have dropped slightly over those 35 years.

    The thing that’s striking to me is how much schools have changed during that same time. I believe the biggest change is computers. In 1973, we didn’t have computers and smartboards in every classroom. We didn’t have 75 salaried IT maintenance workers, an associate superintendant and staff to oversee the computerization of our schools, and many millions of dollars worth of software and hardware that seems to constantly need refreshing.

    Despite all those expensive add-ons to our county schools over all these years, this particular test score seems rather constant, with a slight downward trend.


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