Since we will begin SOL testing in the area of mathematics today I feel compelled to tell you about some notable changes on the three math SOL tests – Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2. This year’s math SOL tests will reflect a new set of standards (adopted in 2009) as well as several test items that are “technology-enhanced” which require students to manipulate information on the computer rather than answer multiple-choice questions. Last year, when the social studies SOL tests were developed with a new set of standards, there was a notable decline in student pass rates throughout Fairfax County as well as the state.
Student performances from the new math SOLs taken this past fall also indicate a decline, one that is more significant. Of students who took the SOL for the first time, 49.2% of students passed the Algebra 1 SOL, down from 84.1% the previous year. In Geometry, 63% of first-time test-takers passed, lower than the 78.5% in 2010. Algebra II first-time test-takers passed at a rate of 84.5% in the fall of 2010, and only 53.7 in the fall of 2011.
We wanted to share this information with you so that you might understand a possible decline from our traditionally strong performances on math SOL tests. Our teachers have been preparing students to meet the 2009 standards, and student mastery of those standards should result in continued strong performance. You can view narrated demonstrations of the new test items, online SOL practice tests, and grade level content reviews to help their children prepare for the tests by visiting http://www.fcps.edu/is/news/mathsol.shtml
. Students test better when they are prepared physically and emotionally.
William L. Bates
Principal, Herndon High School