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Two schools warned about poor scores

Posted on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 9:27 am

Only half the schools that make up the Westmoreland County School Division are fully accredited with the state, according to school officials. Two schools missed full accreditation because of poor scores in mathematics.

Washington District Elementary and Montross Middle Schools met state accreditation qualifications, while Washington & Lee High and Cople Elementary were accredited with a warning in math.

A school receives a warning when their achievement levels do not meet pass rates set by the state. The school must undergo an in-house academic review and adopt and implement school improvement plans. The state will take further action if, after three consecutive years, the school fails to become accredited.

Westmoreland’s Director of Testing, David Smith has already taken steps to improve student scores.

“We have sought to increase the rigor to be ahead of the state curve,” said Smith.

He said he has helped students to meet the demands set in online testing. In some cases, testing results were more than 20 percent higher than rates set by the states, he said. However, there are still those students who are struggling to meet the demands in their core subjects.

School board member Carolyn Wise and Gernard Reed questioned Smith as to why the schools are not meeting the requirements and what could be done as a remedy. In response, Smith cited state changes in curriculum making tests more rigorous for students. As for a remedy, Smith shared several slides with strategies including steps to handle the challenge.

These steps include modifying schedules for instructors and specialists, identifying those earlier in need of assistance and hiring new math instructors, which has already occurred.

Vice-Chairman Daniel Wallace suggested drawing on strategies used by the Washington District Elementary School to succeed in mathematics.

“We’re throwing the resources at Washington District. Should we throw that at Cople to close that divergence,” Wallace asked.

Smith said one of the steps in the strategy plan is to expand the role of the elementary math specialist to support both elementary schools.

The division is awaiting federal accountability data results that will be released on Sept. 20 by the Department of Education. Division Superintendent Rebecca Lowry will announce those results at the next board meeting on Oct. 14 at 6 p.m.

The board also took action to approve a resolution to make the road on Route 3 entering into Washington & Lee High School into a state maintained road. The resolution will be sent the Virginia Department of Transportation.