August 20, 2013
After two months without students roaming the halls, teachers at Sutherland Middle School and around the city and county are preparing for the new school year that starts on Wednesday.
Jeff Criscione, eighth-grade civics teacher at Sutherland Middle School, said "For me it's always meeting the new kids. You get rid of one class of knuckle heads and then another one comes up."
Emily Arico, eighth-grade English and language arts teacher at Sutherland Middle School said, "I got my first smart phone so I'm really seeing how I can integrate that with the kids because that is such a part of their lives and what they do everyday and seeing how I can use Twitter to let them know what their homework is."
As students are looking forward to the new year, administrators are looking back at what schools did last year in the states standards of learning (SOL) tests. Leaders with both Charlottesville and Albemarle county are overall happy with the pass rates.
Beth Baptist, Director of Student Services and Achievement for Charlottesville City Schools, said, "Students who are passing these tests are passing them at higher rates, advanced rate than across the state. So, we are very pleased with that."
Billy Haun, Assistant Superintendent for Student Learning for Albemarle County Schools, said, "On 75 percent of the tests, we did very well. We think that is extremely impressive given that in the last three years every test as been new."
Last year, the state made the reading and science tests more challenging. It's no surprise that across the state, the numbers dropped for those two subjects. Here locally, some pass rates dropped up to 19 points.
Haun said, "Results don't indicate that students are learning less, it means that the state is expecting more."
Baptist said, "We've had a chance to see the types of questions that are on the tests, the level of rigor for the questions. We will continue to teach the content, which is the main thing you do for these tests and then have the students become more used to what the test looks like."
SOL tests are also key factors in a schools accreditation. The bench mark figure will be out in the next month but, Albemarle leader says that some schools could be on the edge with the new standards set by the state this year.