Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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Virginia State News

August 14, 2012

Va. students find math SOLs more challenging

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — As expected, Virginia education officials said Tuesday that new, more rigorous mathematics tests drove pass rates down notably during the last school year, the first in which students were tested under revised standards aimed at better preparing them for college or post-graduation employment.

The Virginia Department of Education officials said that while overall math results were down on the Standards of Learning tests for the 2011-2012 school year, the rates provide a "solid foundation" for future achievement.

"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," state Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia Wright said in a news 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."

According to the statewide data, 75 percent of students passed the Algebra I assessment, compared with a 94 percent pass rate for the 2010-2011 school year. Pass rates for Algebra II dropped from 91 percent to 75 percent, and 74 percent of students passed the Geometry assessment test during the latest school year, compared with 87 percent in the previous year. Education officials also saw declines in pass rates for assessments given to students in grades three through eight.

But the statewide pass rates in Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II were 10 points to 14 points higher than the early sampling of 24,000 students tested last fall and winter, officials said.

In a statement on Tuesday, Gov. Bob McDonnell said that raising standards was the "right thing to do and in the long-term interest of Virginia students."

"This is a necessary step in ensuring that Virginia students are ready to excel in our globally competitive economy," he said.

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