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County schools post strong SOL scores

Below federal benchmark in only one area

by Larry S. Chowning

Recently released Standards of Learning (SOL) test scores have all three Middlesex County schools fully accredited under state standards for the 2009-10 school year.

However, the school system was one school short in meeting division-wide federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards under the federal “No Child Left Behind” initiative.

Assistant school superintendent Dr. James Lane reported at Monday’s school board meeting that St. Clare Walker Middle School and Middlesex High School both attained AYP standards, but Middlesex Elementary School (MES) fell short in one area by just 2 points. 

“These scores should show how powerful a move it was to go to block scheduling.”
—Dr. James Lane

Seventy-nine percent of the MES third and fifth graders passed English, but the AYP benchmark is 81 percent.

All other AYP benchmarks were met at the three county schools.

This is the second straight year MES has not made AYP, so it is now considered an “improvement school.”

“We are going to have to go through some process from the state to assure we make it next year,” said Dr. Lane. “We have to make AYP for the next two years to get off the school improvement status list.”

The “improvement” status means MES will have to provide professional development for teachers and staff; implement scientific-based curriculum for instruction; implement diagnostic assessment and remediation; and promote parent and community involvement.

The division did not meet AYP standards last year because of its low math and English scores at both St. Clare Walker and MES.

No Child Left Behind is a federal law that requires states to set annual benchmarks for achievement in reading and mathematics with a goal of leading to 100 percent proficiency by the year 2014.  Schools, school divisions and states that meet or exceed annual benchmarks toward this goal are rated as having made AYP.

“The high school has made AYP two years in a row, and this is the first year the middle school has made it since 2007-08,” said Dr. Lane.

SOL Scores

Dr. Lane noted that Middlesex Elementary School, St. Clare Walker Middle School and Middlesex High School all were above the state SOL benchmarks in every category.

Dr. Lane said all three county schools improved “tremendously” in math. He indicated that former assistant school superintendent Rashard Wright placed a major emphasis on math, and those efforts obviously produced positive results.

Mathematics at MES improved by 7 points on the SOLs compared to last year, and St. Clare Walker’s math scores were up 17 points, said Dr. Lane.

Middlesex High School had a 5-point jump in reading and increases in both math and English scores. “These scores should show how powerful a move it was to go to block scheduling,” said Dr. Lane.

Block scheduling provides longer class periods and creates more classroom time for students.

The high school had 93 percent pass the English SOLs; 89 percent passed math; 95 percent passed history; and 92 percent passed science. The state benchmark is 70 percent to pass.

At St. Clare Walker, 91 percent of the students passed English; 88 percent passed math; 91 percent passed history; and 98 percent passed science. The state benchmark is 70 percent.
Middlesex Elementary School had 78 percent of its third and fifth graders pass English and 82 percent passed math; 94 percent of third-graders passed history; 84 percent of fifth-graders passed history; 89 percent of third-graders passed science; and 86 percent of fifth-graders passed science.

posted 09.16.2009

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