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Virginia math SOL scores drop: Why that's good news
NEARLY a third of college freshmen require remedial work in math, reading, or writing, notes the Chronicle of Higher Education. The proportion is even higher at community colleges. That's why this year's lower scores on secondary math SOL tests actually represent good news.
The SOLs, taken by Virginia middle and high school students, have been toughened. About 15 percent of the new tests involve technology-aided application questions (for example, drag-and-drop questions on the computer) rather than the traditional multiple-choice problems.
The results from the last school year, just released, reveal what the state Board of Education expected: Scores dropped statewide. The pass rate for Algebra I sank 19 points; Algebra II, 22 points; geometry, 13 points.
While that may frustrate parents and the students who have to retake the tests, it's to be expected. The new standards won't be met overnight. But the hope is that pushing hard to meet the tougher criteria will enable Virginia students to better compete in college and later in the global marketplace.
Locally, 18 schools had a 100 percent pass rate on at least one of the new math tests. These include six middle schools in Stafford County, four in Spotsylvania County, two in Orange County, two in Culpeper County, and one each in Fredericksburg and Caroline, King George, and Louisa counties. The other good news is that year-end testing yielded results 10 to 14 points higher, on average, than midyear tests. So students (and teachers) are catching on.
Remediation in college is an expensive drag. Far better to push middle and high school students a little harder to help them master the math they'll need. It just adds up.