August 17, 2008

Roanoke County Schools Get an A

By David Harrison [email protected] 777-3523

All of Roanoke County's 27 schools met federal standards last year, according to Superintendent Lorraine Lange, citing preliminary information from the Virginia Department of Education.

She said the results were an indication that the school system was able to adapt to increasingly difficult requirements.

Under the No Child Left Behind law of 2002, a certain percentage of students of all demographic groups in all schools and all school districts nationwide must pass annual tests in English and math. The pass rate increases each year, making it progressively harder for schools to meet the standards. For instance, in order to hit the mark this year, 77 percent of students had to pass English and 75 percent had to pass math last spring.

By 2014, all students will be expected to pass the tests, under the law. Schools that fail to meet the standards for consecutive years face penalties that, in the most extreme cases, can include replacing staff and reconstituting the school.

This is not the first time all Roanoke County schools have met the annual standards, known as Adequate Yearly Progress. But it's becoming increasingly difficult as the target keeps getting more difficult.

Last year, four county middle schools fell short of the mark, although two of them, Hidden Valley and Cave Spring, were later determined to have met the standards on appeal. Middle schools across Virginia have struggled on the tests in the past two years, particularly in math.

Lange said teachers and staff worked closely with individual students to raise middle school test scores without neglecting the other schools.

"The test scores were the highest test scores we've ever had in Roanoke County," Lange told the school board Thursday evening.

Board member David Wymer, a former teacher and school administrator, praised the results as "good news," although he noted, "We're not there with every student yet."

State education officials will release detailed test results for every district in Virginia later this month.

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