Friday, March 21, 2008

Academic Performance in Tazewell County, Va. (and the Absence of Real Reasons to Close Pocahontas High School)

Note: Visit my education blog, The Green Cup

If we were to have a sane, rational data-driven discussion in Tazewell County about how our schools are doing, academically, a couple of things would become clear.

  1. The high school with the best academic scores in the county (as measured by the Virginia Standards of Learning test) is Graham High School.
  2. Pocahontas High School's SOL scores are significantly better than the scores at Tazewell High School, and (when taken as a whole) not much different than the sightly better scores at Richlands High School.
  3. The middle school with the best SOL scores in the county is Graham Middle School.
  4. The middle school grades at Pocahontas are doing quite acceptably - significantly better than Richaldns Middle School or Tazewell Middle school.
The conclusions is simple: there's no academic justification for closing Pocahontas High School. It would be easier to justify closing Tazewell Middle School or Richlands Middle School for academic reasons.

Middle School
SOL Scores
Math 673573738
Reading 691898277
Math 752585053
Reading 771887077
Math 873848178
Reading 886928181
Writing 886919291
So, how do I know that SOL scores at Pocahontas are qualitatively different than Tazewell High, Tazewell Middle, or Richlands Middle? I know because the Commonwealth of Virginia say so. You see, Pocahontas is fully accredited by the state, while THS, TMS, and RMS are not.

You can read erport cards on any school in the state right here. But to make life a little easier, I've put together a little chart for you...

2006-07 SOL Scores
for Tazewell County
High Schools

Thursday, March 20, 2008

This is Spring?

We awoke this morning to snow on the first day of Spring. It didn't stick to the grass, but the cars and the deck were covered. The temperature was in the mid-30's at 6am and the snow on the Cheryl's windshield was the type of crunch stuff you get with it melts and then freezes again a couple of times.

One of my students made the newspaper. There was a picture in today's paper of her mother's SUV. It was upside down; and although you can't see the child in the picture, paramedics were attending to her, trying to get her out of the car in the picture. Someone told us near the end of the day that she had a broke arm and a ruptured spleen and that she was in a hospital in Roanoke. The fourth and fifth graders made cards for her. And I hope she's back soon...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The First Robin

I saw my first of the year robin today. It was walking across our wet lawn, near the bird feeder. While there were no other robins, it was not the first new addition to the bird landscape. A purple finch helped itself to some of my thistle seed today. We have yellow finches off and on throughout the winter, but it's been months since I saw a purple finch. We were also visited by some red winged blackbird, a chickadee, some sparrows, and a cardinal. Business at the birdfeeder has definitely picked up.

Does that mean winter's over? I think that technically winter ends about March 22nd. I was talking about the seasons with some kids at school last week - fourth and fifth graders. I joked and told them that our area's seasons are almost winter, winter, still winter and summer. The just looked puzzled at me. They've never known anything else. I, on the other hand, have lived other places - warm places...

The sounds of the night have begun to change, as well. A few days ago I heard frogs shortly after dusk for the first time. And in the morning when I go out to my car the birds are now singing in the light of dawn. Soon there will be crickets, followed by a progression of other night time noise makers.

Of course, we may still have a white Easter.