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City schools met SOL standards this year, though math scores dipped after a new test was introduced.
By SHAINA STOCKTON
This year, 93 percent of Virginia’s public schools are fully accredited and meeting state standards of achievement in English, math, history and science, according to statistics from the Department of Education.
All three Galax schools are included in this group, with averages resting comfortably above state requirements.
Standards of Learning scores in math showed a slight decrease this year due to a new series of tests, according to Galax Schools Assistant Superintendent Rebecca Cardwell. These tests include questions that require higher levels of problem solving and have multiple steps before a solution can be reached.
The dip was expected due to the increased difficulty of the tests, said Galax Schools Superintendent Bill Sturgill, but scores are expected to improve as teachers adapt their lesson plans to meet the higher standards. “I’ve seen this same pattern before,” said Sturgill. He predicts the scores in math to show improvement as soon as next year.
As for English, history and science, Cardwell said that the overall scores showed a slight increase. They usually remain at a steady level or show small amounts of progress in each category. Scores are expected to dip next year after new tests in English and science are implemented, with the same expectation that they will improve by the following year as students and teachers get used to them.
Galax City Public Schools has a total of 1,271 students — 451 from the elementary school, 314 from the middle school and 506 from the high school. The district average less than 100 students per grade level, Cardwell said. The small class sizes allow for more individual teacher-student interaction.
Sturgill said teachers provide several approaches to the curriculum, thus appealing to students with different learning styles. Teachers work with the students as much during school hours as possible to make sure that they understand the material.
Teachers also provide tutoring to students who are struggling with their work, and there is a Saturday school program that has shown a large turn-out so far, Cardwell said.
Galax schools have never failed to receive state accreditation in the past, said Cardwell. She and Sturgill are hopeful that scores will continue to improve in the future.
“We are a division focused on helping students to achieve,” Sturgill said.