Director of Public Information and Community Involvement
In The News
District focused on student achievement
NNPS remains committed to college and career readiness
(August 21, 2012) - Newport News Public Schools' preliminary Standards of Learning (SOL) tests scores released by the Virginia Department of Education reflect the increased rigor of the new state mathematics tests taken during the 2011-2012 school year.
According to Dr. Patricia Wright, state superintendent of public instruction, "Virginia's public schools are beginning a new trend line with the implementation of more challenging standards and assessments. The goal is to build on the progress already made under the Standards of Learning program and ensure that all graduates possess the knowledge and skills needed for success in college and the workplace."
Analyzing Data and Progress in Newport News
New state mathematics standards and a new federal accountability system give Newport News Public Schools a new baseline to measure student progress. "The standards set new goals that all schools will strive to achieve," said Kilgore. "What's really important to understand is that benchmarks alone will not create success for any student or in any classroom. It is the work of teachers, administrators and support staff in conjunction with students and their families that will make the difference."
Kilgore added that "NNPS has high expectations that all students, and all subgroups of students, will engage in learning that prepares them for success not only on standardized tests, but also for college and careers. The new data provides additional ways for us to identify areas in need of improvement."
Scaling Up Success
With 30,000 students, Newport News Public Schools is working to find proven success strategies and scale up those programs for all students. One example is the third grade literacy curriculum revision implemented last fall.
"We knew our third graders weren't doing well and looked for ways to increase what's been a long-standing challenge," said Kilgore. Implementation of the new third grade curriculum made it more compelling to students and more effective for learning. As a result, third grade English/reading scores increased eight points.
"Teachers and other staff worked hard on rethinking how we teach in third grade, and I'm pleased to say that their talented efforts paid off. We will now implement the same integrated approach in grades four, five and nine. The results show we can tackle tough challenges and find a solution to help all of our students," said Kilgore.
English/reading SOL test scores also increased in sixth grade by two points. Other notable student performance increases include eighth grade English/writing scores (two point increase); World History I and World History II (five points and four points, respectively); biology (four points); and grade three and grade five science (one point each). Other scores remained steady.
As expected, scores in mathematics dropped with the introduction of more rigorous mathematics standards. Kilgore said the school division is working hard to reverse this year's math results. The drop in mathematics scores mirrored a statewide trend. According to a department of education advisory this spring, school divisions were told that "Lower pass rates at the beginning of this process are a sign that the state has raised the bar, not that students are learning less."
"Although it was anticipated that math scores would drop across the state, I believe that the new math test, which requires students to apply what they have learned, is a positive move for our students," said Kilgore. "Business leaders are telling us that the application of math to real-world problems is essential for their companies to succeed, and that students who can demonstrate that on tests and at work will be highly valued. That's what we want for our students and what we are working towards this year.
Implementing What Works
"As we review and analyze the new SOL data further, our goal is not to teach to the test, but to grow students who are ready for the competitive world students will face in the 21st century," said Kilgore. "We will systematically look for and implement practices that create successful students, as we were able to do with the following initiatives."
Earning a Diploma: Keeping the focus on college and career readiness is essential on another state and federal benchmark: graduation rates. In 2008 the NNPS dropout rate was 14.3 percent according to the state's measurement. Through a series of moves that included adding graduation coaches to high school staffs, ramping up online learning classes, and creating individualized learning plans for all students, the dropout rate was cut nearly in half -- to 6.9 percent. The graduation program has also boosted the number of students who complete ninth grade on time, with more than 90 percent of freshman in every high school earning promotion to 10th grade and making it likely that the dropout rate will continue to decrease.
Career Readiness: In a tough economy that values strong work credentials, the school division created the Career Pathways program and created opportunities for students to earn valuable industry certifications. Over the past year, the number of certifications earned increased by 16 percent.
College Readiness: More NNPS students are taking Advanced Placement courses and achievement is increasing. More than 1,700 students took 2,876 advanced placement exams in 2011-2012, a six percent increase in participation over the previous year. The overall mean score of the AP exams increased five percent over the same time period.
In addition, over 70 students will get a head start in college this year by enrolling at Thomas Nelson Community College through the district's Early College program. These students may earn up to 19 college credits while in high school.
Preliminary Standards of Learning test results are below.
Newport News Public Schools
Standards of Learning Test Results
|Subject||Grade||Test||2010-2011 Pass Rate||2011-2012 Pass Rate|
|English: Reading||Grade 3||English Reading||73||81|
|English: Reading||Grade 4||English Reading||79||76|
|English: Reading||Grade 5||English Reading||83||79|
|English: Reading||Grade 6||English Reading||82||84|
|English: Reading||Grade 7||English Reading||83||82|
|English: Reading||Grade 8||English Reading||86||84|
|English: Reading||High School||English Reading||91||89|
|English: Writing||Grade 5||Writing||81||78|
|English: Writing||Grade 8||Writing||83||85|
|English: Writing||High School||Writing||90||90|
|History and Social Sciences||Grade 3||History||78||76|
|History and Social Sciences||Grade 4||VA Studies||89||83|
|History and Social Sciences||Grade 6||US History I||76||71|
|History and Social Sciences||Grade 7||US History II||82||74|
|History and Social Sciences||Grade 8||Civics & Econ||80||75|
|History and Social Sciences||High School||World History I||79||84|
|History and Social Sciences||High School||World History II||82||86|
|History and Social Sciences||High School||VA & US History||75||74|
|History and Social Sciences||High School||Geography||75||73|
|Mathematics||MS and HS||Algebra I||92||66|
|Mathematics||High School||Algebra II||87||58|
|Mathematics||MS and HS||Geometry||78||62|
|Science||Certain MS/High School||Earth Science||86||84|
Director of Public Information and Community Involvement