School Board discusses upcoming SOL testing

A policy change allows the Mecklenburg County School Board can award verified credits towards a standard or advanced diploma in reading, writing, math, science, and/or history/social sciences. The locally awarded verified credits awarded to students using COVID emergency guidelines will not count toward the cap on locally-awarded verified credits. To be eligible to earn locally awarded verified credits, a student must: be enrolled in any course tied to verified credit, attempt the SOL and earn a 350-399, pass the corresponding high school course, demonstrate mastery of the standards, competencies, and objectives of the entire course through a locally-determined verification process.

Mr. Nichols addressed some of the questions that he has received regarding SOL tests. “I want to clarify that for graduation purposes, particularly at the high school level and for some students at the middle school level, they have got to have the verified unit of credit, which basically states that you have taken the class, that you have been in the class the expected number of hours, and that you have passed the class. When the SOL came along the purpose was to verify and validate that the class was a strong class. So it verifies what was learned in the class room.” He continued, “In this case we have looked at the issues related to safety of the children in class when the county is expected to be in the red with rise in COVID cases. We wanted to take a look at that and focus on the safety of our students and staff but it overlapped the time period that we had identified for testing on a secondary level. We have arranged for transportation and have arranged for students to use all of the proper safety protocols. A parent can choose not to send their child to take the test for the verified credit but to graduate that child is going to need that verified credit so they will have to look at taking it at a later time. The next time will be in the spring testing.”

Gavin Honeycutt spoke on the legal ramifications that the Mecklenburg County School System could face denying a student’s graduation based on the measures set by the State School Board. Mr. Glenn and Joan Hite both expressed their disappoint in the “unfair” guidelines set for rural school communities.

“So if they pass the class and the test, they are in good shape. If they pass the test but don’t pass the class then we would be in the position to have to say ‘well you’ve got to pass both’. It’s just a conundrum that we all have to deal with,” said Nichols.

Moving into the instructional update Mr. Nichols said, “When we entered the understanding that we would still be dealing with this issue of needing virtual education in August, we were one of only two school divisions that were really looking at bringing students back face-to-face.” He continued to update the Board on all of the plans that had been made to return students to school, however, county case numbers and state regulations continued to push the plans to the side.

“We are looking at what is going to happen after Christmas. We are planning to give option for quarantine to be able to take care of a Christmas heightened numbers. And of course as we just discussed there is the issue of SOL testing.”

When discussing return plan options Nichols emphasized that if the school system sees an outbreak within one of the school buildings, they will be in a position to have to shut the entire school down.

Mrs. Wanda Bailey asked if any more hotspots will be purchased for students continuing to struggle to connect for virtual learning. Mr. Nichols explained that hotspot and WiFi options are being looked into.

The School Board voted to move forward with plans to renovate Clarksville, LaCrosse, and Chase City Elementary Schools. The assessment, provided by Ballou Justice Upton Architects, will be presented to the Joint Education Committee and the Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors for review and approval.

In the November/December issue of American School & University the Ballou Justice Upton Architects received an award for Outstanding Design for the Mecklenburg County Middle-High School Complex.

Mrs. Kerry Janel Kelly, 6th grade Park View Middle School Science Teacher, received the Veterans of Foreign Wars Teachers Award for her excellence in teaching. Ms. Caitlynne Horton, 8th grade student at Park View Middle School, won the Patriot's Pen Essay contest for the third consecutive year.