So now what?

Published 3:42 pm Friday, August 23, 2013

The results of the 2012-2013 Standards of Learning tests, which were released by the Virginia Department of Education on Tuesday, are troubling at best. While there is a mountain of information and data that has yet to be thoroughly dissected and understood, there are some key statistics that paint a fairly accurate picture of the direction that two of our three public school systems are headed.

Last year, after the DOE revamped the SOL tests in math, scores across the state declined significantly. This year, similar changes were made to tests in English, reading and science. Scores across the state in those categories were expected to experience a similar decline, and they did. But it is not this year’s decline in those areas compared to last year’s scores that are so disturbing; it is how far behind the state average in all areas of testing that we are.

A brief overview reveals that of the 33 tests for which score were released, Isle of Wight County lags behind the state average in only eight categories, while Southampton County is below average in 20 and Franklin City Schools trail in 31.

Isle of Wight, which exceeds the state average in 76 percent of the test categories, gets a pass in this discussion. Southampton County, which is below state average on 60 percent of the tests and Franklin, which falls below the state average on a staggering 94 percent of the tests, do not.

Isle of Wight, of the eight categories in which it lags the state average, only underperforms the state by 10 percent in a total of two categories. Southampton County has a double-digit deficit in five categories, the largest three being 23, 25 and 30 percent out of nine total math tests. Franklin has double-digit deficits in a whopping 21 of the 33 total categories, and trails by at least 20 percent in 10 of them.

It is pointless to debate whether or not these results are acceptable, because any reasonable person should realize they are not. What must be discussed now is where to go from here.