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Colonial Beach SOL test scores fall; numbers attributed to new tests

Posted on Wednesday, August 7, 2013 at 9:45 am


Superintendent of Colonial Beach Public Schools Kathleen Beane presented the Standards of Learning (SOL) scores to the division’s school board at the regular meeting last month. The 2012-2013 scores showed a drop in Reading, Writing and Science scores due to new tests in those areas. The scores presented are preliminary pending the Virginia Department of Education’s final analysis.

In 2011-2012 the state changed the Math portion of the test from single step problems to those with multiple steps, in which only the final answer counted toward a passing score. Student scores dropped across the state, as well as in Colonial Beach, but showed an improvement this year.  Last year grade three’s scores in Math was 31 percent with a rise to 61 percent this year. Once teachers had learned how the new test worked they were able to help students learn how to work the newer problems.

While a 70 percent pass rate is the benchmark for all tests the vast majority of 3rd graders, across the state, did not hit the benchmark either year. This year the Reading, Writing and Science scores plummeted as new tests were implemented. At the 3rd grade level reading dropped from 74 to 60 and science from 91 to 73.

Fourth grade reading dropped from 93 to 51, writing and science are not tested at that level; 5th grade reading dropped from 98 to 87, writing from 100 to 74 and science improved from 88 to 90; 6th grade reading dropped from 91 to 73.

Reading dropped from 94 to 65, writing from 100 to 76 and science from 95 to 63 at the 8th grade level. At the high school level writing end of course results were 95 percent passing in 2011-2012 and 83 percent in 2012-2013. English end of course numbers were similar with an 80 percent pass rate down from 88 the previous year.

Biology numbers went from a 91 to a 68, Earth Science from a 95 to a 76 and Chemistry plummeted from 100 to 35. Chemistry suffered due to a loss of the chemistry teacher at the end of September and a long term substitute having to teach the course, as well as only 12 students taking it in the entire high school.

Other than the severe chemistry drop the numbers were closely in-line with the rest of the state’s drops. According to Beane next year should show improvements, just as this year did in the overall math scores.

The school board discussed a proposal to charge out of town limit students a transportation fee for the year. With two levels, a $200 one and a $250 step, this would cover part of the estimated $30,000 cost of transporting these students. Due to the worry of losing students, the proposal was tabled for now. Wayne Kennedy brought up the fact that if the school lost just two students due to this, any gain would be lost.

If all students from outside the town paid the fee it would have brought in just $16,000. Each student in the school system brings in approximately $7800 in state and federal aid. The amount of aid brought in to the system was the reason behind CBPS ending the tuition charges. Other schools in the area including Westmoreland County and King George, have now dropped tuition charges for out of district students.

A one-year contract for Tyler Technologies “Versatrans School Transportation software” was unanimously approved at a cost of $9500 for the year. Each additional year would cost $2880 with the school able to drop the contract at anytime. The Versatrans software is used to help set up transportation for students, including exact bus routes, breakdown of students on each bus, and other non-bus transportation needs. According to Tyler Technologies their software will maximize effiency, including helping to cut costs and the amount of diesel needed by consolidation of stops.

School board members discussed dropping stops outside of town to the absolute minimum needed to get students to school. While students in kindergarten, first, and second are required to be picked up, and dropped off at their homes, older students are able to walk from consolidated stops.

Also approved was the allowance of $2500 to pay for the electricity for the Northern Neck Head Start modpod for the year. Head Start is a separate entity from the school system that serves at-risk three and four year olds. This year a large amount of the Head Start budget was cut which has made some locations close and others cut the number of students in their areas.

Westmoreland County Head Start lost its program at Washington District. Students that were offered spots will have to be bused to Cople Elementary School to participate in the program. While, CB’s Head Start did not move, they did lose funding and asked for coverage of the electric to help keep the program viable on a local level.

New Athletic Director, Mike Patierno , who takes the place of Steve Swope following his retirement, was introduced at the meeting. Patierno presented the SB with the fall sports schedule and answered a few questions regarding the schedules. He is also the new transportation director for CBPS.

Patierno is a former U.S. Army Military Police officer. He is originally from Chicago, IL an graduated from North Central College with a major in education. Following college Patierno joined the Army where he served for 20 years.  More recently he worked as athletic director of Skyline High School in Front Royal and prior to that he was assistant principal of Warren High School. Presently he lives in Winchester, but plans on moving to CB to be more involved with the community.

The next school board meeting is Aug. 14 at 5:30 p.m. All meetings are held at the Town Center and are open to the public.