Williamsburg-James City County Schools and York County School Division remain at or above state averages on Virginia’s Standards of Learning tests, but both school divisions saw pass rates fall on some benchmarks in the most recent round of testing, according to results released Wednesday.
Figures from the Virginia Department of Education show that students statewide had pass rates of 79 percent in reading, 78 percent in writing, 77 percent in math, 81 percent in science and 84 percent in history and social studies for the 2017-2018 school year.
Locally, Williamsburg-James City County schools saw its writing pass rate climb to 83 percent from 82 percent, but the division posted slightly lower scores on the other SOL benchmarks.
The school division’s history and math pass rates both fell 3 percentage points, with history rates declining to 84 percent from 87 percent and math rates slipping to 79 percent from 82 percent.
Reading pass rates dropped to 82 percent from 83 percent, while science pass rates stayed steady at 85 percent.
“When looking at student subgroups, we have identified areas for improvement, particularly in the area of math,” School division spokeswoman Eileen Cox said. “To that end, a new math coach will be in place this school year to assist schools and teachers in supporting student learning in this area.”
The district had 11,853 pupils in the 2017-2018 school year, compared to 11,755 in 2016-2017.
Cox said Williamsburg-James City County Schools is projecting all of the division’s schools to be fully accredited for another year based on performance from the 2017-2018 school year.
The new James Blair Middle School will also open this year with a conditional accreditation, which is given to new schools for their first year, Cox said.
Information regarding school accreditation will be released to the public on Sept. 27, Cox said.
The York County School Division also posted an increase in writing pass rates, but otherwise scores remained almost unchanged from the previous school year.
Writing rose to 87 percent from 85 percent, while pass rates remained steady at 90 percent for reading and history and social studies. Math and science pass rates both slipped to 89 percent in 2017-2018 compared to 90 percent in 2016-2017.
The district had 12,821 students in the 2017-2018 school year, compared to 12,741 in 2016-2017.
A York County School Division spokesperson was not immediately available for comment Wednesday.
James Lane, Virginia’s superintendent of public instruction, cautioned Wednesday that SOL pass rates should not be the sole measure of a school’s quality.
“If we focus solely on annual pass rates, we miss the achievement of students who are making steady progress toward the benchmarks and the efforts of schools to address issues that directly affect learning and achievement,” Lane said in a news release. “An emphasis on overall pass rates can obscure the needs of groups of students who require additional support, both inside the classroom and in the community.”
Note: This story has been updated to include comment from WJCC Schools spokeswoman Eileen Cox.