Va Dept of Ed Blows Off 60% of Virginia Students

This summer, after receiving a wavier from NCLB’s 100% passing requirements, the VA Dept of Ed established new goals for the percentage of students passing the SOL in all school divisions and public schools in the state.   The new targeted percentage passing was set for the state overall and for groups of students;  groups that are based on race.

The Va Dept of Ed took lots of flack from the public because the pass rate targets for 2013 – 2017 for Black and Hispanic students are lower than the pass rate targets for White and Asian students.   The Dept of Ed was accused of having lower expectations for Black and Hispanic students than they do for White and Asian students.

The VA Dept of Ed responded that the goals don’t reflect lower expectations for Black or Hispanic students as the final goal, 73% passing by 2017, is uniform across all groups. Instead of setting a uniform starting point that didn’t reflect actual pass rates, the Dept of Ed set the 2012 actual pass rates as the point from which annual increases are expected.  The goals for annual increases for Black and Hispanic students, according the the Dept of Ed, will be challenging but are achievable.

Unfortunately the Dept of Ed blew off White and Asian students as they aren’t expected to improve at all.

In 2012, 73% or more White and Asian students passed the state SOLs in every elementary grade level or high school subject tested.  For White and Asian students, who comprise 60% of Virginia students, no increase in the percentage of students passing the state SOLs is expected through 2017.  Here are the actual 2012 pass rates and the 2012 – 2017 targeted pass rates from the VA Dept of Ed for each racial group  Pass Rate Targets & 2012 Actual Pass Rates

According to the Va Dept of Ed, the percentage of Black and Hispanic students passing the SOL exams is expected in increase nearly 20% over the next 5 years, but no increase is expected for White and Asian students.   In these times of scarce resources, with pressure on school divisions to meet state pass rate targets, where do you think the resources will be allocated – to the schools that are struggling to meet the state pass rate targets or the schools that have already met them? If every child deserves an education that helps them achieve the most they can, is that fair?  Wouldn’t it be more fair for the state to expect the percentage of students passing the SOLs to increase in each and every group, not just in select groups?

If you have any concerns with the goals the Dept of Ed has established, you may want to contact your state representatives.

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2 Responses to “Va Dept of Ed Blows Off 60% of Virginia Students”

  1. Lyle Beefelt Says:

    Let’s confuse pass rates with student achievement. While it is important to make sure that all children receive a good public education, higher pass rates does not equate to a better education for all children. Note that a higher pass rates for white children does not mean a better education for the 73% of white children that already pass. In fact, unless either more resources or better methods are employed, it means taking away resources from student who passed easily in order to focus more resources on those not yet passing. NCLB was good for education because it required disaggregation of data by subgroup (no more making schools “effective” by moving minorities around). However, NCLB confuses pass rates on competency tests with excellent education. To improve, educators should look at the percent pass rate, the mean score and the percent passing advanced.

    Thanks for the good work you are doing to improve education.

  2. pwceducationreform Says:

    I agree that the emphasis on pass rates alone is inadequate and wish the VA Dept of Ed had set goals for improving the percent passing, the percent achieving an advanced score, and the mean score. As we all know, our schools teach based on the state’s expectations and setting goals for all three measures would ensure growth in all areas and groups.

    Unfortunately, the only goals the state has set are those that call for increasing the percent passing the SOL exams. That goal is 73% passing overall and in each group by 2017. That goal was met or exceeded by White and Asian students in all elementary grade levels and high school subject levels in 2012 – the year that is supposed to be the baseline year.

    The only way to increase the percentage of students passing the SOL is by improving the instructional programs and approaches used to teach our children. Presumably those improved instructional programs and approaches will be followed for all students without discrimination, in which case you’d expect to see increases in the percentage passing in all groups, not just select groups. Yet the state doesn’t expect any improvement in the percent of White or Asian students passing the SOL.

    Why?

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the state use the actual 2012 pass rates as the baseline from which increases in every subject and grade level in every group will be expected. That way increases would be expected in every group. Unfortunately, that’s not what that state has done. As such, I think we have cause to question the reasonableness of goals the state has set.

    I’m just an ordinary citizen, so the state won’t respond to anything I say. People need to contact their elected representatives and express their concerns to them.


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