Petersburg SOL testing investigation

By Nicole Bell - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - An investigation is underway into possible SOL testing irregularities at a local school. The move comes after allegations that students who should have taken the tests were "not" allowed to do so. Many parents we spoke with didn't know about the investigation which centers around AP Hill Elementary School.

The State Department of Education is looking into SOL testing practices at AP Hill. An investigation was launched in June after the department got an anonymous tip.

"The allegation is that there were students at AP Hill who should have taken SOL tests who were excluded from testing," said Charles Pyle, Virginia Department of Education Spokesperson.

The department sent a team of investigators to the school to interview teachers, students and to review records. That team is now completing a final report which will outline its findings.

In a statement Petersburg public schools says, "We hope to get the results of that report in the near future. We will then proceed to take whatever action is necessary."

Students who should test but are excluded from doing so could result in a school's SOL score being inaccurately enhanced.

SOL scores are particularly important this year in Petersburg if all schools aren't fully accredited by September - the school must comply with a 2006 agreement it made with the Department of Education and offer an independently managed middle school program.

Right now, one Petersburg public school is fully accredited, six are not.

"If it's true something needs to be done," said parent Michael Pettaway.

Michael Pettaway hopes the SOL allegations are false. He has a daughter who's a student at AP Hill.

"If it's true that child is actually being left behind," said Pettaway.

The outcome of that investigative report is expected to be released next week. I asked the spokesperson with the State Department of Education if it's common for such an allegation to be made against a school. He said no.

In fact, over the last four years about 60 such allegations have been made, a small percentage considering the commonwealth has about 1800 schools.

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