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.