At the last school board meeting Harry Wiggins, Chairman of the PWC Democratic Committee, addressed the board. He stated that PWCS had the lowest test scores in the area. Dr. Otiagbe appeared taken aback by that and asked the Superintendent to address it. The Superintendent responded that PWCS consistently exceeded state averages but didn’t elaborate further as it was quite late.
Both are mostly correct.
Confusing, isn’t it? I’ll try to break it down a bit.
Our students take lots of tests – SOLs, SATs, ACTs, APs, IBs, Cambridge Exams, NAEP exams, and other exams. Each test gives a slightly different picture of the school system. You can find some of the test score data here on our Test Scores page. That page is updated periodically as more data is made available.
Like every school system, the overall scores PWCS achieves are affected by its demographics. In general, economically disadvantaged students perform below not economically disadvantaged students. Schools and school systems with greater percentages of economically disadvantaged students will generally have lower pass rates or scores than schools with smaller percentages. That’s reality. No, it’s not nice to hear, but it’s reality.
Roughly 38 – 39% of PWCS students are classified as economically disadvantaged; only Manassas and Manassas Park have higher percentages of economically disadvantaged students. In contrast, only 17 – 18% of Loudoun’s students are economically disadvantaged.
Some test score data can be pulled by economic group, but not all. That data shows that there’s a difference between how the groups perform in PWCS and when compared with other students in the same group in other counties. I’ll present that in a later post.
This post focuses on the test scores for all PWCS students.
When it comes to SOL scores, PWCS is all over the place.
For Math, at the Elementary level, we’re generally above state averages and better than some but worse than other counties. At the high school level we’re generally below state averages and near the bottom with only Manassas consistently passing a lower percentage of students. Because of differences in course sequences and testing, middle school scores are nearly impossible to compare.
For Reading we’re generally at or above state averages in all levels. At the elementary level we’re typically in the middle of the pack with only Fairfax and Loudoun passing a greater percentage of students, but we start to slip in middle school. By 8th grade, only the City of Manassas and Fauquier pass a lower percentage of students.
PWCS’ SAT scores are troubling.
For Reading, PWCS students do better than the US average but worse than the Va. average. Only students in Manassas and Manassas Park do worse than PWCS students on the Reading portion of the SAT.
For Math, PWCS students do worse than both the US and Va. averages. Only students in Manassas and Manassas Park do worse than PWCS students on the Math portion of the SAT.
For Writing, PWCS students do the same as the US average, but worse than the Va. average. Only students in Manassas do worse than PWCS students on the Writing portion of the SAT.
Fewer PWCS students take the SAT exam than any other county in the area. Only 56% of PWCS students took the SAT exam in 2013. In comparison, 72% of Fairfax students, 79% of Loudoun students, 73% of Manassas students, and 67% of Manassas Park students took the SAT in 2013.
There are differences by school in PWCS, with some schools doing better than others. There’s also a significant difference between the SAT scores achieved by students in specialty programs and students who are not in speciality programs. I’ll present that data in a later post.
The chart presented here does not include Stafford’s 2013 SAT scores. Stafford’s combined 2013 SAY score was 1513. Their scores for the Math, Reading, and Writing portions of the SAT are not available on their web site and repeated calls to their testing department were not returned. I’ll update the chart if they ever get back with me.