Setting the record straight

Published 9:54 am Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Last Wednesday, we ran an editorial (“Brow-raising hire,” April 17) questioning the decision of Southampton County’s school board to hire the superintendent of Petersburg schools as the replacement for Charles Turner when his retirement becomes effective June 30. In it, we described Southampton schools’ performance in standardized testing as in the “lower echelons” of statewide rankings.

We regret having chosen words inconsistent with Southampton’s actual achievements and statewide ranking with regards to its students’ pass rate in the Standards Of Learning tests. While using the words “lower echelons” probably conjured up an image of a system that ranks near the bottom, or at least the bottom half of state rankings, in test scores, Southampton’s SOL scores actually place the division in a tie for 59th out of 132 school systems statewide. Considering the fact that student test scores were considerably lower and much more in line with our initial description as recently as a decade ago, this ranking represents improvement that school officials, administrators and teachers are understandably proud of yet unsatisfied with.

While we regret having implied a statistical inaccuracy, the county’s higher ranking actually makes an even stronger case for the main point of last week’s editorial: While Southampton County schools have made tremendous strides in recent years and endeavor to achieve even greater improvements in overall student performance going forward, hiring the superintendent of a school system whose performance lags behind that of Southampton’s does, and should, raise some concern. And when one considers that Petersburg City Schools ranked last in SOL scores out of the 132 school systems statewide, we feel that concern is valid.