Middle School Students Excel in Math Despite State's More Rigorous Standards
Manassas City sixth and seventh graders see an increase in the math assessment pass rate over last year despite more rigorous standards implemented by the Virginia Board of Education in 2011.
The 2011-2012 school year was the first time the Virginia State Board of Education implemented new, more rigorous math standards, so how did the students do?
Manassas City Public School (MCPS) sixth grade students received an 84 percent test pass rate in math for the 2011-2012 school year, which was well above the state's pass rate of 74 percent and an increase of five percentage points over last year. MCPS seventh graders received an 52 percent test pass rate—an increase of 10 percentage points over last year.
MCPS fifth grade students also exceeded the state pass rate in math by 5 percent with a 72 percent rate, but this number is 14 percentage points lower than last year.
Statewide, high school and middle schools students following a four-by-four block schedule increased their Standards of Learning (SOL) test pass rate on the new standards by 10-14 percentage points over the beginning of the year in Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II, according to a press release issued by the Virginia Department of Education this week.
“Virginia teachers and students worked hard throughout the school year – and for many, into the summer – to meet the Board of Education’s challenging new mathematics standards,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright in a Virginia Department of Education press release. “While we have a long climb before we reach the achievement levels we hope to see on the new mathematics tests, the results released today represent a good start and provide a solid foundation for further progress in 2012-2013.”
But the new standards are proving to be a challenge for some students. Test pass rates in Geometry, Algebra I and Algebra II decreased from the 2010-2011 school year both statewide and locally, according to information provided by the Virginia Department of Education.
Division-wide, MCPS students taking Geometry in 2010-2011 received a pass rate of 72 percent, but only a 56 percent pass rate in 2011-2012 school year when the new standards went into effect; Algebra I test pass rates decreased by 34 percentage points from 2010; and Algebra II rates decreased by 28 percentage points.
Statewide, students in grades 3, 7, and 8 had a more difficult time adjusting to the new standards and assessments given, according to the VDOE. The third grade test no longer assesses K-2 content and the seventh grade assessment includes additional content and concepts formerly taught and tested in the eighth grade. The increased rigor of the eighth grade standards is designed to prepare students who were not ready for Algebra I in middle school to tackle the course during their freshman year, acccording to the release.
MCPS third graders passed fewer tests in 2011—down 28 percentage points from 2010. Metz Middle School seventh and eight grade students excelled on the Geometry 2011 tests with a 100 percent pass rate, up two percentage points from last year; while Metz eight grade students achieved just 12 percent, down from 70 percent in 2010.
Metz eight grade math scores do not reflect the entire grade as more advanced students take the Algebra I and Honors Geometry tests, said a MCPS press release.
"We are proud of the improvements in many areas and will continue to increase student achievement," said Catherine Magouyrk, division superintendent. "While we celebrate the areas of growth, we are working diligently to address opportunities for sustainable growth."
The Board of Education revised and strengthened the state’s math standards in 2009 to ensure that Virginia public school students are prepared for the challenges of the first year of college or meaningful entry-level employment when they graduate from high school, according to the VDOE. But last year’s SOL mathematics tests were the first to reflect the increased rigor of the new standards.