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News release by Danville Public Schools
The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) released Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) pass rates for the 2021-2022 school year on Thursday afternoon, which showed the state is still feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on education.
For the first time in three years, all Danville Public Schools (DPS) students completed SOL testing during the 2021-2022 school year, and results showed that DPS students are recovering from the lost instructional time.
When compared to state averages, Galileo Magnet High School scored above the state average in every subject, while Forest Hills Elementary School performed above state average in history.
The following Elementary schools saw an increase in pass rates from the 20-21 school year across three or more subject areas:
G. L. H. Johnson Elementary saw increased scores over the past two years in reading (up to 40% from 28% in 20-21), while Woodberry Hills Elementary saw an increase over the previous year’s mathematics scores (up to 34% from 12% in 20-21).
Westwood Middle School achieved higher scores on their reading (up to 46% from 40% in 20-21), math (up to 34% from 22% in 20-21), and civics and economics (up to 38% from 26% in 20-21) tests, and O. T. Bonner improved upon their writing scores (up to 31% from 28% in 20-21).
At the high school level, George Washington High School saw score increases over the previous year in reading (up to 66% from 54% in 20-21) and science (up to 41% from 31% in 20-21).
“We are so pleased to see a significant increase in our test scores for the 21-22 school year,” Superintendent Dr. Angela Hairston said. “Our students have made an amazing rebound from the pandemic, but there is still work to be done.”
At E. A. Gibson Elementary, Principal Dr. Star Norton worked hard on the school improvement process, which included school climate.
“Over the last year, we have worked diligently to enhance our school culture and climate, enhance our relationships with the community, and increased family engagement and communication,” Norton said. “Together, we have reviewed our collective commitments to promote instructional planning and delivery alignment to state standards.”
However, Norton said the most important part of this work was to positively impact their students’ education and lives. Every day, the school works towards “Growing Greatness” with their three pillars: Be Kind, Work Hard, and Never Give Up.
The Virginia Department of Education also recognizes growth in English and math, which is combined with pass rates to assess how students are improving, even if they did not pass. This combined rate for reading and writing in elementary and middle schools includes students who passed SOL tests and students who did not pass but showed growth, including English learners who made progress toward English proficiency. For mathematics, the combined rate for elementary and middle schools includes students who pass SOL tests in math and students who didn’t pass but showed growth.
The combined pass rates showing growth are used for state accountability, or accreditation, which will be released next month.
Preliminarily, nine of the 10 SOL testing schools saw increased growth rates in English and math for 21-22. The following schools saw a three-year high in their growth rates: E. A. Gibson Elementary (both), Forest Hills Elementary (both), G. L. H. Johnson Elementary (both), Park Avenue (reading), Woodberry Hills Elementary (both), O. T. Bonner Elementary (both), Westwood Middle School (reading), and George Washington High School (reading).
“If our children continue to grow at this rate, our outcomes will continue to improve,” Hairston said. “In order to pass, we must grow first.”
Areas of improvement
While the district saw great gains in some areas, it also recognizes the areas that still need improvement, such as science. With a laser-like focus on reading and math in 21-22, the district looks to place more emphasis on science this year, with increased training for teachers and STEM opportunities for students.
To continue growth this school year, the division will continue its intentional focus on instruction and its new curriculum, which is created by DPS leaders and teachers for DPS leaders and teachers. The division will also focus on secondary schools to increase their improvements.
In addition, DPS has hired reading and math coaches at each school this year in an effort to provide extra assistance to teachers in every subject area. DPS also now has a Teacher Quality Specialist, Dr. Stephanie Haynsworth, who will provide support for teachers, as well as implement strategies for teacher retention.
Student achievement is one of the five goal areas in the district’s 2021-2026 Strategic Plan, in which increased test scores are indicators of success. The goals, as listed in the five-year plan, are to increase the percentage of pass rates on various SOL tests to proficiency or above.
“On behalf of the board, we are excited to see improvements in our student achievement,” Danville School Board Chair Crystal Cobbs said. “The work of our leadership and teachers is moving us in the right direction.