No textbooks blamed for low test scores

Published 10:32 am Wednesday, February 22, 2012

FRANKLIN—Franklin school officials are looking into what delayed the delivery of math textbooks after the grandmother of a high school student claimed only two students passed a state-required Algebra II test.

“Some of the kids didn’t get books until after the test,” Eleanor Ashburn recently told the School Board.

High School Principal Dr. Rodney Barry denied that only two out of 56 students passed the test because testing has not been completed.

“They are going to be higher than that,” Barry said.

He added that Algebra II students have had textbooks all year, but a new state-approved textbook wasn’t available earlier in the year. He wasn’t sure what month the textbooks arrived.

Superintendent Michelle Belle told the School Board that pass rates for the tests in math have been low statewide.

This is the first year of math testing with more rigorous standards, state Department of Education Spokesman Charles Pyle told The Tidewater News.

“If you raise the standards and don’t see an impact on pass-rates, then you have to ask if you actually raised standards,” Pyle said. “It’s not unexpected and it’s not an indication that students are learning less, but more of an indication that the state’s expectations have increased.”

Out of 24,000 students statewide, 53.7 percent passed this year, down from 84.5 percent last year. Pyle said 275,000 to 290,000 students statewide would take the math exam this year.

Students must pass Algebra I, geometry, or Algebra II to graduate with a standard diploma, and two of the three for an advanced diploma.

Pyle said the new Algebra II textbooks were approved in July, but teachers were to begin basing curriculum on the new standards as early as last year.

“A textbook is a resource, but it’s not what drives instruction,” he said.