By Matt de Simone
The students of Botetourt County performed “extremely well” on their 2021-2022 Standards of Learning (SOL) scores compared to the other 132 divisions in Virginia. Botetourt County Public Schools (BCPS) finished 13th overall in 2019, improving to sixth in 2022 according to the accreditation information.
At the September BCPS School Board meeting in Fincastle last Thursday, Supervisor of Instruction Deborah Nemec provided the 2021-2022 SOL pass rates for county students and an update on student growth assessments.
On August 18, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) released the state’s SOL pass rates for all public schools. The pass rates are located under the assessment tab of the School Quality Profile report (https://schoolquality.virginia.gov).
BCPS ranked seventh in Reading, fourth in Math, and 12th in Science. History and Social Sciences aren’t included in the national accreditation system. However, students ranked sixth overall in that subject as well.
Nemec commended the work of the educators and students who “committed to excellence” during the challenging conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On September 22, VDOE is scheduled to release the 2022-23 State Accreditation Ratings in the School Quality Profile, which will include growth. In slides Nemec presented to the board, she explained that “adjusted” columns will consist of combined rates for students that pass or didn’t pass assessments but demonstrated growth in grades 3-8 from either the spring or fall of 2021, English-learning students that didn’t pass the reading assessment but showed progress, and student recovered from a previous test administration.
Middle school students will have an adjusted column in Math and Reading. The adjusted Reading rate includes the Reading and the grade eight writing scores combined to give the score.
On September 29, the VDOE will issue a news release regarding the Virginia on-time graduation rate and the cohort dropout rate for the class of 2022. This info will also be made available on the School Quality Profile report.
School Board Superintendent Dr. John Russ mentioned that he doesn’t judge a school division based on SOL scores, but Russ said BCPS is “going to celebrate.”
“To be sitting in the top seven in Reading and the top four in Math across the entire state… is a huge accomplishment,” Russ noted. “Our teaching staff, administrators, central office instructional department, and last but not least, our parents and support at home is second to none… I want to publicly praise and appreciate them. We’re blessed to have the school division we have.”
Russ added there is still room for improvement, and there is no need to get complacent, knowing that if there are numbers about BCPS’ current ranking, “we’re going to get there.”
The School Board’s Valley District representative Tim Davidick commended the students’ achievements and thanked the community for striving for excellence in education.
During Nemec’s presentation of the county’s student growth assessments, she explained that legislation passed in the 2021 General Assembly requires implementation of “through year” growth assessments in Reading and Mathematics in grades 3-8. Last year, legislation called for the administration of fall and spring assessments.
Growth Assessments in 2022-2023
The fall and winter growth assessments focus on the student’s current grade level content. For example, a fifth grade math student in 2022-23 will be administered a fall and winter growth assessment focusing on fifth grade math standards.
Students might be administered some items from below or above grade level, depending on the student’s responses to on-grade-level items to comply with the 2021 legislation.
Nemec continued by explaining that the computer-adaptive algorithm developed for the assessment was also configured so that when a student takes the assessment, in addition to seeing grade-level-specific content, that adaptive nature of the evaluation will alter the administration of the test up a grade level or down a grade level based on the response.
This year, the test results will help inform instruction during this school year and will also be used for growth determination.
Grades 3-8 Reading and Math SOL Tests
Beginning in 2023, grades 3-8 reading and mathematics computer adaptive SOL test may also include off-grade-level content. Tests will primarily include items that assess the student’s grade level content. A student’s proficiency level and pass/fail status on the SOL tests will only be determined by their responses to on-grade-level items.
If off-grade-level items are administered, the student’s responses to those will be reflected in the vertical scaled score used to determine the student’s growth.
To watch the entire presentation, visit bcps.live/archives.