By Taylor Boyd
The preliminary Standards of Learning (SOL) pass rates for the fall suggest that the Patrick County Public School division is on track to meet pre-COVID-19 academic achievements.
Coming out of a year of virtual learning, Acting Superintendent Jason Wood said the school system expected instructional gaps that teachers would be called upon to fill, with student growth among the biggest challenges facing teachers.
“So, you have to understand where students start, where they need more assistance or remediation or reteaching, and then develop a plan to meet their academic goals that are aligned with the standards you must teach,” Wood said.
The Fall 2021 preliminary pass rate for Reading dropped from 86 percent to 84 percent, while the Math pass rate increased from 90 percent to 95 percent. Science also experienced a large increase to 78 percent from the Fall 2020 pass rate of 69 percent, and History increased to 73 percent from 60 percent.
The most significant change was in Writing, where the scores dropped to a pass rate of 77 percent from 86 percent the previous year.
Wood said the school division understands that Writing is an area that needs more focus. The division currently is looking at including writing in different parts of the curriculum to ensure that students are getting more opportunities to write in class.
The division also provides special development for a writing program so students can become better writers.
“We know that is an instructional area and a focus in which we need to improve, and just as any new instructional program or technique comes out, there’s sometimes a learning curve,” Wood said. “So, I feel confident that once we are embedded in the new writing program those scores will continue to improve.”
The Fall 2021 pass rates also are like those of the 2019-2020 school year, when Reading had an 80 percent pass rate and Math was 90 percent. Science and History both had a pass rate of 81 percent. Writing was the lowest scoring, with 72 percent.
Because the current rates represent only one semester, Wood said an accurate comparison between the two cannot be mad. But he noted the school division is close to meeting the pre-pandemic scores in the second semester.
Wood said the division also is still in its adjustment period following the switch back to in-person
learning five days a week.
While the schools are graded on SOL performance and meeting the competencies that must be taught, he said the number one focus remains the entire well-being of the child.
“We need to focus on rebuilding relationships with students’ families. We need to check on the emotional wellbeing and the physical health of our students. I think once we continue to build those relationships, let families and students know that we are here for them in any needs they have, by taking care of them first, that academics will continue to improve second semester,” he said.
Wood added teachers also must reteach students to be students.
“We’re having to reteach procedures and routines in the classrooms. We’re having to reteach on how students should interact with each other,” he said.
Coming out of virtual learning, Wood said the division is pleased with the fall pass rates and hopes to build off them going into the second semester.
“The performance shows the hard work of our staff is paying off. More importantly we’re also looking for the improvements in students’ mental and physical health too as we continue rebuilding those relationships with students,” he said.