NPS Records Gains in Reading and Math

Dear Norfolk Public Schools’ Parents and Guardians:

This release revises to 19 the number of schools with reading and/or math gains of 10 points or more.

Norfolk Public Schools Records Gains in Reading and Mathematics Performance;

Improving Science Performance Remains a Significant Challenge

In their first full year of in-person instruction since the onset of the pandemic, Norfolk Public Schools’ students made significant gains in the areas of reading and mathematics performance. This assessment, the result of the administration’s analysis of the Spring 2022 Standards of Learning tests, also identified science as a subject area where more concerted improvement strategies should be put into place. The administration examined how performance during the 2021-2022 school year measured up against prior testing years prior to the pandemic.

Norfolk Public Schools’ Chief Academic Officer Dr. James Pohl identified these encouraging results:

  • Combined performance rates for English for all students as well as these subgroups: Black, multi-racial, white, economically disadvantaged, English language learners and students with disabilities were higher than pre-pandemic combined performance rates.
  • Eighty-three percent (83%) of all NPS schools experienced an increase in the combined performance rate for English as compared to pre-pandemic levels.
  • Forty-eight percent (48%) of NPS schools recorded an increase in the combined performance rate for mathematics from pre-pandemic levels.
  • Twenty-five percent (25%) of all students showed growth in mathematics performance in the fall to spring comparison, although passing scores were not at pre-pandemic levels. However, it is important to note that mathematics was the subject area with the largest percentage decrease in scores during the pandemic. Therefore, while overall performance did not reach the level NPS worked toward, the improvement is a strong indicator that students are on the road to learning recovery.

Individual Schools Recorded Promising Gains

“The tremendous work of teachers and other school staff must be acknowledged, especially on the heels of what arguably could be called the most challenging two years in public education – a time when schools across this country had to shut their doors to prevent the spread of a devastating disease. However, public education as a profession proved innovative, flexible, and responsive during the crisis. Learning recovery will not occur overnight; however, it will steadily emerge because educators will rise to the challenge. Norfolk Public Schools is an example of such resiliency. Nineteen of our schools made at least a 10-point gain in combined performance rates for English and/or mathematics academic achievement,” said Superintendent Dr. Sharon I. Byrdsong.

Those schools and their achievement gains are: Camp Allen Elementary, 13 points in English; Chesterfield Academy, 17 points in English and 16 in mathematics; Coleman Place Elementary, 16 points in English; Granby Elementary, 14 points in English; Ingleside Elementary, 12 points in English; Jacox Elementary, 32 points in English; James Monroe Elementary, 25 points in English and 20 in mathematics; Lake Taylor School, 10 points in English; Lindenwood Elementary, 22 points in English and 11 points in mathematics; Mary Calcott Elementary, 10 points in English; Ocean View Elementary, 14 points in English; Oceanair Elementary, 20 points in English; P.B. Young Elementary, 21 points in English; Richard Bowling Elementary, 16 points in English; Sherwood Forest Elementary, 11 points in English; St. Helena Elementary, 20 points in English and 18 in mathematics; Suburban Park Elementary, 11 points in English; Tidewater Park Elementary, 21 points in English; and Willard Model School, 14 points in English.

The elementary schools of NPS experienced the most improvement. “However, while growth was more modest in our secondary schools, some were not absent of gains,” Dr. Pohl said. “For example, in English, Azalea Gardens Middle School gained 3 points; Southside STEM Academy gained 8 points, and Ruffner Middle School gained 8 points.”

Focus Areas for Further Improvement

Dr. Pohl noted most pass rates were lower than pre-pandemic levels. “Obviously, this reality needs to improve. This school year we concentrated very intensely on literacy because that is the linchpin for achievement in all subject areas and our work appears to have made a positive difference. Math, too, was a focus area because math instruction proved particularly challenging in a remote environment. Although we did make gains, we are not yet seeing the level of student performance that was being seen prior to the pandemic.  We trust our community will appreciate the value of steady, incremental growth,” he said.

Science as a subject area proved particularly challenging for schools and students. Science pass rates declined, and this subject is anticipated to be the only factor that stands in the way of some schools earning full accreditation status. (Note: Accreditation results will be made available in the fall when on-time graduation rates and attendance can be factored in the VDOE’s calculations.) “I do not believe Norfolk Public Schools is alone in this challenge,” Dr. Pohl said.

Strategies to Improve Student and School Performance Next School Year

A key strategy that helped facilitate improved academic achievement this past school year was monthly data meetings between the central administration and the leadership of all 42 testing schools. These meetings helped identify performance gaps so additional resources could be provided in areas of need. “Those meetings will continue next year as they ensured schools and central administration were partners in the development of targeted action plans,” Dr. Pohl emphasized. Other strategies that will be undertaken include: using mathematics and reading data to align the continued use of instructional software to meet each student’s needs; the development and implementation of additional science assessments; increased use of hands-on activities for science; increased professional development for elementary teachers in the area of science instruction; curriculum revisions to address new science standards, and increased tutoring supports for high-need schools.

**NPS E-mail Release 8/19/22**

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