Though more than 90 percent of Fairfax County Public Schools students passed Virginia’s Standards of Learning (SOL) test last school year, about half of all schools in the county did not meet testing goals laid out by the No Child Left Behind Act.
Ninety-two percent students in the county earned a passing SOL score for mathematics, while 93 percent passed the reading test, according to the school system.
But 94 of the 190 schools in the county did not meet adequate yearly progress (AYP) goals set by the No Child Left Behind Act, according to data recently released by the Virginia Department of Education – a 22 percent increase from the 52 schools that did not meet their progress goal last year.
On Thursday, officials praised the school system’s performance on the SOL tests, while warning federal yearly progress goals for schools are not an adequate measure of success.
In Virginia, only 697 – 38 percent – of the 1,839 schools in the state made AYP based on last school year’s test results, while 61 percent made AYP during the previous ratings cycle.
The No Child Left Behind Act requires that states set annual student achievement goals in reading and math, aiming to reach 100 percent proficiency by 2014.
In Vienna, Cunningham Park Elementary, Flint Hill Elementary, Freedom Hill Elementary, Kilmer Middle School and Marshall Road Elementary School fell short of the act's AYP benchmarks.
Westbriar Elementary Made AYP Made AYP Made AYP Not in Improvement Not in Improvement No No Wolftrap Elementary Made AYP Made AYP Made AYP Not in Improvement Not in Improvement No No
This year, for a school to meet its Annual Yearly Progress goal, at least 86 percent of students overall and students in each racial and socio-economic subgroup must have demonstrated proficiency in reading, while 85 percent must be proficient in math.
Last year, the proficiency goals for reading and math were 81 percent and 79 percent, respectively.
Student groups held to this standard include whites, blacks, Hispanics, students with limited English proficiency (LEP), students with disabilities and those who are economically disadvantaged. The legislation also takes into account a number of other benchmarks, including attendance and graduation rates.
In light of the results, Virginia officials said Thursday AYP was an inadequate measure of school performance.
“We don’t believe that it’s a very helpful indicator of school success,” FCPS spokesperson Paul Regnier said.
For instance, he said, one of the highest-performing schools in the county “did not make AYP because of the numbers of students with disabilities.”
Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright said in a statement she will recommend that the Board of Education ask Secretary of Education Arne Duncan for a waiver from No Child Left Behind Act requirements and the ability to create a new accountability system for the state.
“Accountability is not advanced by arbitrary rules and benchmarks that misidentify schools,” she said.
Over the last three years, the achievement gap between Black and White students in Fairfax County in math narrowed from 15 to 13 percentage points, while the Hispanic-White achievement gap decreased from 16 to 11 percentage points.
The achievement gap between black and white students in reading decreased from 13 to 10 percentage points over the last three years, while the White-Hispanic gap increased by one percent.
Individual schools' performance on SOL tests over the years can be found here.