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Arlington, VA 22207
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2012-13 News Releases


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For Immediate Release:
Sept. 12, 2012
For more information, contact the Dept. of School and Community Relations at 703-228-6004 www.apsva.us
  APS Students Surpass Statewide Peers on SOL Tests in All Subject Areas and Among All Groups 
Two-Year Gains under New Strategic Plan
Based on data released today by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), Arlington Public Schools (APS) students continue to pass the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) tests at high rates in English- Reading, English-Writing, History/Social Science, and Science.
In mathematics—as expected with the implementation of new standards and assessments—pass rates dropped from 2011 to 2012. Still, APS pass rates in mathematics surpassed the state at every grade level. The drop in 2011-12 mathematics scores is similar to what has happened in other subject areas when new standards and assessments have been introduced. Scores show a decline, but APS teachers and students have met such challenges in the past, and test scores quickly rebound in the following years.

The Virginia Board of Education is revising and strengthening Virginia’s standards in all subject areas in an effort to better prepare public school students for the challenges of post-secondary education or meaningful entry-level employment when they graduate from high school. SOL history/social science tests administered in 2010-11 and mathematics tests administered in 2011-12 were the first to reflect the increased rigor of the new standards. More rigorous assessments based on revised curriculum standards will be implemented in English-Reading, English-Writing, and Science during the 2012-13 school year.

Reviewing these results, APS Superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy expressed his pride in Arlington students and teachers for meeting the new challenges represented by the more rigorous state assessments in mathematics and social studies. He reflected, “The state’s rigorous curriculum standards are consistent with Goal One of our Strategic Plan, which focuses our efforts on challenging and engaging all students. We have set the same high standards for all students, and our staff continues to work very hard to eliminate achievement gaps. We will examine the results for all student groups further in APS and other school divisions for ideas on how we can reduce and finally eliminate these gaps in student performance.”

The results released by VDOE today summarize individual SOL test performance for the five subject areas and breakdown achievement for the various student groups used for accountability reporting. These group include all students; four race/ethnicity groups (Asian, Black, Hispanic, White); and three special service groups (limited English proficient (LEP), students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged).
Comparison of 2011-12 APS and Virginia Performance
APS students across all reporting groups continue to outpace their peers around the state in all subject areas (see Table 1). 
  • English-Reading. APS pass rates exceed state averages for White students and are over 90 percent for Asian and White students. The largest discrepancy is for APS Hispanic students, with pass rates 5 percentage points lower than Hispanic students statewide.
  • English-Writing. APS students outperformed their state peers in 6 out of 8 reporting groups, with pass rates exceeding 90 percent for all students, Asian students, and White students. APS showed the largest achievement advantages over the state by 12 percentage points for students with disabilities.
  • Mathematics. With new more rigorous math assessments, APS students outpaced students around the state for all reporting groups except Asian students. Arlington showed the largest advantage among White students (16 percentage points) and among students with disabilities (10 percentage points).
  • History/Social Science. With revised assessments introduced in 2011, APS students continue to outperform their peers across the state in three reporting groups, notably by 5 and 6 percentage points for students with disabilities and White students, respectively.
  • Science. Students in Arlington passed the science SOL tests at higher rates than their state peers for four reporting groups, most notably for students with disabilities by 5 percentage points.

Two-Year Trends under the APS Strategic Plan
Under the APS 2011-17 Strategic Plan, Goal One is to challenge and engage all students and Goal Two is to eliminate achievement gaps for the various subgroups. APS six-year targets are to maintain existing high levels of performance (e.g., 90-95 percent SOL pass rates) or continuously improve achievement in all core content areas—reading, mathematics, history/social science, science, and writing. APS students are already well on their way to achieving these targets for several reporting groups (see Table 2).

  • English-Reading. SOL pass rates continue above 90 percent for APS students in two reporting groups, White and Asian students. While pass rates have increased since 2011 on individual grade-level tests for Black, Hispanic, LEP, and economically-disadvantaged students and students with disabilities, subject-area pass rates for these reporting groups were down 1 to 3 percentage points in 2012.
  • English-Writing. More than 90 percent of APS students continue to pass the English-Writing SOL test for all students, White students, and Asian students. In addition, limited English proficient students showed increases from 2011 to 2012.
  • Mathematics. As noted previously, with the new more rigorous assessments in mathematics, APS pass rates decreased from 2011 to 2012 for all reporting groups but continue to be above 90 percent for White students.
  • History/Social Science. APS pass rates have increased for four reporting groups in 2012, including Asian and Hispanic students, and economically disadvantaged and limited English proficient students. White students continue to pass these tests at high rates, 96 percent in 2012.
  • Science. Pass rates remain above 90 percent or have shown improvement since 2011 for six out of eight reporting groups. Hispanic, economically-disadvantaged, and limited English proficient students achieved at least 3 percentage point gains from 2011 to 2012.

Additional results were posted today for schools, divisions, and the state in report cards available in the Virginia School Report Card section of the VDOE website. The updated data include test-by-test and subject-area pass rates for all subgroups. VDOE will report state accreditation ratings for schools based on achievement in the five subject areas later this month.