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Virginia Standards of Learning scores increase

“It’s important not to over-interpret any year-to-year changes,” Curry Dean Pianta says

The Virginia Department of Education released the Standards of Learning test results from the 2013-14 school year Wednesday. Student test scores in math increased, from a 71 percent pass rate in 2012-13 to 74 percent this year.

“The gains students made show that … the statewide focus on teaching students to be problem solvers and to apply what they have learned in mathematics in real-life situations is producing results,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven Staples said in a press release.

Education School Dean Robert Pianta said not to focus on such minor shifts.

“It’s important not to over-interpret any year-to-year changes, especially when they are not really large or clearly tied to some identifiable shift in practice,” Pianta said in an email.

Education Prof. Tonya Moon also said it is best not to narrowly focus on year-to-year rates.

“Each school year is a different cohort of students … that is, the students in the year that there was a 71 percent pass rate is not the same students that had a 74 percent pass rate,” Moon said in an email.

Moon also attributed the increase to students moving in and out of the state.

“Some of this movement can account for small fluctuations in pass rates,” she said.

The Standards of Learning tests encompass assessments in reading, writing, math, science and history/social science. The standardized exams measure if students statewide meet the Board of Education’s standards for their grade level.

According to its website, the Board revised the math examination in 2011. Moon said the increased math score did not correlate directly with the revised test.

“The [local school] divisions are another year out from the 2011 revisions, thus there is greater familiarity with the state test blueprints and curriculum frameworks,” Moon said.

Student scores in reading, writing, science and history showed no more than a percentage point difference from last year’s results.