U.S. students falling behind (some more)

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U.S. students falling behind (some more)


A recent headline from the Bezos Bulletin (er, Washington Post): “U.S. Students Continue to Lag Behind Peers in East Asia and Europe in Reading, Math and Science.”

Followed by: “The results of an international exam suggest U.S. schools are not doing enough to prepare young people for the competitive global economy.”

Meanwhile, our local and quite self-satisfied school boards across Northern Virginia are busy patting themselves on the back for all their social-engineering blather – something that likely will worsen as a new crop of School Board members, with even less real-world experience than their predecessors, takes the reins of authority across the region. This is especially true in Fairfax County, where the upcoming change in School Board composition has us hoping for the best but a tad fearful of what will transpire.

We’re sure the retort will be to calm down – local schools are producing results superior to the national average. But that national average is in such sorry shape that being incrementally better is hardly something to crow about.

And it’s not students elsewhere in the U.S. who represent the competition. It’s those from Mumbai to Shanghai. And by objective measures, we are failing.

Source: https://www.insidenova.com/opinion/editorials/article_0d5da0fc-1c4f-11ea-bcc2-5745f07c8a7e.html



County Schools Are Leaving Kids Behind

Image credit: Pixabay / harishs

By Matthew Neverusky

Solutions that could improve outcomes for students at Mount Vernon and other struggling Fairfax County public schools won’t be implemented this year under the guidance of the current school board. These schools will continue to face higher dropout rates (9.2%) and lower state tests scores for reading and math. 70% of students at these schools will continue to fall short of college readiness criteria. The problem is not the students, the parents, or the staff. The problem is a bloated, distracted school board that is blind to the actual needs of individual student populations.

Schools in Fairfax County act as the bedrock of thriving communities. Instead of assessing what changes could be made to help the actual student populations and strengthen communities, the Fairfax County School Board wants to pay for dead-end studies that call for socialism (disguised as “equity”) and explore the concept of redistricting. The first advocates for a failed political system that has wrecked countless economies and led to utter misery for millions of people worldwide. The second is a scattered, desperate attempt to hide deficits in school performance rather than address the needs of those falling behind.


We need a change in school board leadership. Republican candidates for the Fairfax County School Board have a realistic plan that will lead to concrete results. A major push by Republicans will be to target and uplift schools with underperforming test scores and academic proficiencies, rather than disperse the student population. These schools will receive the support they need to increase academic rigor, improve outcomes for students interested in STEM education, and receive additional staff to reduce overcrowding in classes. While Democrats want to shuffle students around the county, Republicans hope to maintain and strengthen communities by improving the daily lives of students and families in neighborhood schools. For students interested in pursuing college and university education, Republican school board members will divert money away from wasteful studies and grand schemes; and instead fund effective academic programs that give teachers the tools they need to improve academic skills and incentivize student learning.

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For students interested in direct employment after graduation, Republican school board members will strengthen the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program. For Mount Vernon and others schools facing similar challenges, a strengthened CTE will provide solid training programs for students not meeting college readiness criteria and it will give students, weighing the option of dropping out, a chance to stay and earn a tangible education that will lead to high-paying jobs directly after graduation. A Republican-led school board will make sure that students have options that can carry them forward in the world of work. They will do this by updating coursework, creating new programs that match economic trends, and improving skills-based learning that will create graduates ready to work on “day one” following graduation.  Republicans will increase availability of these programs to ensure that any student interested has a pathway toward skills-based, trade-focused education. Additionally, a Republican school board will routinely monitor and review graduation data, career outcomes, and career trends to ensure these programs follow through on what they promise and adapt to actual opportunities as the economy changes.

Matthew Neverusky is a licensed professional counselor with a master’s degree in education.


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Virginia’s SOL pass rates decline; achievement gaps remain

By Max Smith

Overall pass rates on Virginia’s Standards of Learning tests fell last school year, while significant achievement gaps persisted.

Statewide pass rates declined on English reading and writing tests and history and social science tests, remained flat in science, and increased in math, where a new test was used for the first time.

The Virginia Department of Education cited changes that allowed more high school students who do well in class to skip end-of-course SOLs as one reason for some of the pass-rate declines, but acknowledged that much more must be done to support many students.

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Reading pass rates are on a downward trend the last three years, and state education officials are proposing additional focus on early reading support, such as more state money for reading specialists in elementary schools, where the most kids are struggling.

Economically disadvantaged students, black students and Hispanic students have much lower SOL pass rates in general than wealthier, Asian or white students.

Reflecting those disparities, many of the Northern Virginia school divisions with the highest pass rates across all tests are wealthier, such as Falls Church and, in some subjects, Loudoun, Arlington and Fairfax counties.


Tracking past years, for many similar reasons, Manassas, Fredericksburg, Winchester, Alexandria, and Manassas Park are among local school divisions with the lowest pass rates in various subjects.

Though a much smaller gap, female students have higher pass rates than male students in English and math. In history and social science, male students have the slight edge; in science, pass rates are the same statewide.

The overall pass rates do not account for how many kids are squeaking by and how many have mastered the subjects.


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Fifth-grade history was the test with both the highest pass rate — 92% — and the highest percentage of students scoring in the advanced category, at 56%.

End-of-course Algebra II had the next highest pass rate, at 91%, but only 19% of students scored advanced.

Eighth-grade history had the second-highest advanced pass rate, at 47%, while 88% of students passed overall.

The lowest advanced pass rate was on end-of-course Virginia and U.S. history (7%), a test that saw pass rates decline sharply this year from 84% to 68%, as high schoolers who met credit requirements no longer had to take the test.

Fewer than 10% of test-takers also scored as advanced on end-of-course earth science, end-of-course geography and end-of-course English reading, although those tests had higher overall pass rates.

Source: https://wtop.com/virginia/2019/08/sol-pass-rates-decline/


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How each local school system did on 2018-19 Virginia SOLs

By Max Smith

Falls Church City Public Schools students were more likely than kids in any other Northern Virginia jurisdiction to pass Standards of Learning tests this year, according to new state data.

The overall pass rates are simply about meeting minimum requirements, and they continue to show significant economic and racial achievement gaps, even in high-performing school systems.

In Fairfax County, for example, while 93% of white students passed history and social sciences tests, 76% of black and 69% of Hispanic students passed.


In Alexandria, only 55% of students coming from low-income homes passed English reading tests.

State officials are suggesting additional reading support in many elementary schools to help kids meet key reading goals by third grade.

The full lists of local school systems’ pass rates in each subject area:

English: Reading

English: Reading 2018-19 pass rate rankSchool system2016-2017 rate2017-2018 rate2018-2019 rate3 year avg.
T-3Falls Church City93929192
T-13Loudoun County87868486
T-18Arlington County87848385
T-28Fairfax County84818182
T-41Stafford County82817981
T-41Prince William County80797979
T-50Orange County80797879
T-57Fauquier County80807779
T-76Spotsylvania County79787577
T-81Frederick County76767475
T-81Warren County75747474
T-85Culpeper County76757375
T-91Clarke County79777276
T-111Alexandria City71696869
T-114Manassas Park City74726771
T-114Winchester City69706769
T-122Manassas City72676468
124Fredericksburg City74676368

English: Writing

English: Writing 2018-19 pass rate rankSchool system2016-2017 rate2017-2018 rate2018-2019 rate3 year avg.
1Falls Church City94929092
3Loudoun County89898788
4Arlington County86868686
T-10Fairfax County86858284
T-27Prince William County79807879
T-34Fauquier County79797778
T-44Spotsylvania County79767577
T-44Clarke County77777576
T-44Frederick County78767576
T-55Stafford County81777477
T-59Culpeper County79737375
T-59Winchester City68707370
T-77Orange County75777074
T-77Manassas City73687070
T-77Alexandria City68727070
T-77Warren County72677070
T-84Manassas Park City74746972
T-124Fredericksburg City68565459

History and Social Sciences

History & Social Sciences 2018-19 pass rate rankSchool system2016-2017 rate2017-2018 rate2018-2019 rate3 year avg.
1Falls Church City96959595
T-5Loudoun County92918991
T-11Fairfax County90888688
T-23Prince William County89878487
T-27Clarke County86908386
T-44Frederick County87848184
T-52Arlington County88868085
T-52Stafford County88868085
T-52Culpeper County84828082
T-64Fauquier County85837882
T-64Manassas Park City78817879
T-73Spotsylvania County85837782
T-73Winchester City80797779
T-84Warren County84807580
T-99Alexandria City76757274
T-107Manassas City77757074
T-125Fredericksburg City76715969

Math (Note: This was the first year with full new tests)

Math 2018-19 pass rate rankSchool system2016-2017 rate2017-2018 rate2018-2019 rate3 year avg.
T-6Falls Church City88879189
T-19Arlington County86838785
T-19Loudoun County85838785
T-29Fairfax County83818683
T-44Stafford County82808482
T-54Culpeper County82808382
T-54Prince William County79768379
T-70Orange County78758178
T-81Clarke County78778078
T-87Spotsylvania County80757978
T-87Fauquier County78757977
T-87Frederick County77757977
T-94Manassas Park City75727775
T-94Warren County75727775
T-94Winchester City72707773
T-114Manassas City74687171
T-116Alexandria City66617066
T-128Fredericksburg City67606163


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