Here’s a big kudos to students in Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach City Public Schools students outpaced state averages as far as the 2017-2018 student scores on Standards of Learning tests were concerned.

Figures released Wednesday by the Virginia Department of Education show that students statewide had pass rates of 79 percent in reading, 77 percent in math, 81 percent in science, 84 percent in social studies and 84 percent in history for the 2017-2018 school year.

In comparison, Virginia Beach had 86 percent in reading, 84 percent in math, 87 percent in science and 88 percent in social studies.

The report also indicated there were 68,986 students enrolled in VBCPS (2017-2018) – there were 69,085 the school year prior.

“Virginia has challenging standards and assessments, and students are performing at a much higher level today than when the state raised expectations six years ago,” Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane said. “Pass rates are not the only measure of school quality. If we focus solely on annual pass rates, we miss the achievement of students who are making steady progress toward the benchmarks and the efforts of schools to address issues that directly affect learning and achievement. These factors are captured in the new accreditation system, and the ratings we will report next month will provide a more complete picture of where schools are today and where they can be enhanced in the future.”

Under the revised Standards of Accreditation approved by the Board of Education in November 2017, school quality indicators for English and mathematics will include the academic growth of students making significant progress toward meeting state benchmarks.

Schools will also be evaluated on progress in closing achievement gaps in English and mathematics, raising overall achievement in science and reducing chronic absenteeism. High schools will also be evaluated on their success in raising graduation rates and reducing dropout rates.

“An emphasis on overall pass rates can obscure the needs of groups of students who require additional support, both inside the classroom and in the community,” Lane said. “Under the new accreditation standards, schools and school divisions are required to develop and implement plans to address achievement gaps and ensure that all students have the resources they need to succeed.”

Information on the performance of students on SOL tests during 2017-2018 — including pass rates for schools and school divisions — is available on the VDOE website and on the online School Quality Profiles.

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.