Lynchburg/Danville/Roanoke reading scores decline, math scores increase

(WDBJ7)-- Only one subject area experienced statewide improvement in the Standard of Learning test results for the 2018 school year, released Tuesday by the Virginia Department of Education.

According to a news release sent by the VDOE (see attachment), average scores in reading, writing and history declined. Mathematics test scores improved and science scores remained the same.

Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane said VDOE will work with school divisions to focus on improving reading skills for all students and to address widening achievement gaps in reading.

“School divisions must ensure that all children receive research-based reading instruction — beginning in kindergarten — that addresses their specific needs, and that students are reading at grade level by the end of the third grade,” Lane said in the release.

Schools in Lynchburg, Danville and Roanoke City also saw dips in reading scores.

“What I would expect for the public is to look at it holistically. Overall we have had very significant gains when it comes to math performance. We have had fewer gains when it comes to literacy performance,” explained Dr. Stanley Jones, Superintendent of Danville Public Schools.

The decline in scores is already fueling changes in our region.

Lynchburg said they will have literacy consultants working with all elementary teachers this school year in balanced literacy instruction and they are also implementing new training for some teachers.

Danville created a new position for the 2019 school year: a coordinator of balanced literacy.

“That is to intensify what reading strategies we deploy across all classrooms, K-5,” said Jones.

The only subject to improve on the statewide level is mathematics. This comes on the heels of a new mathematics test. The improvement in scores was seen on the local level as well.

Lynchburg, Danville and Roanoke City all experienced gains in mathematics scores.

Jones argued that moving forward it will be important to evaluate where the school systems are investing money and what improvements are made as a result. He pointed to Woodberry Hills Elementary School in Danville, where DPS has decreased classroom sizes by making it a K-3 school and invested more resources. After one year of changes, the school saw gains in test scores.

“As a result of that- making that investment, which costs more money, we have seen bigger gains. Is that something we need to do across the entire system?” said Jones.

The VDOE is planning to release school accreditation results in September.