Petersburg schools see glimmer of hope in SOLs

PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — One year ago, two schools in Petersburg started sending kids to school year round. The recently released SOL numbers for one of those schools shot through the roof.

After one year of year-round schools, students at A.P. Hill Elementary are passing with flying colors. Reading scores among all students jumped by 22 points from the previous year. Math scores were even higher, those increased by 29 points.

“We are very excited about that. We did have a three year goal to meet accreditation for our year round schools, and to see A.P. Hill come out of it in one year year is phenomenal,” says Dr. Joseph Melvin, the superintendent of Petersburg Public Schools.

The major improvements made at A.P. Hill unfortunately were not universal. There are other areas of concern, especially at the high school.”

Compared to the 2013 to 2014 school year, reading scores fell by only one point at the high school; however, math scores were much worse. Those scores fell by eight points for the 2014-2015 school year.

The PTO president says all the pressure shouldn’t fall on the petersburg school system.

“I am telling the parents first and foremost, don’t sit there and start yelling and complaining, oh the schools are not doing this, petersburg is not teaching my children anything, let’s remember now, our schools are reflective of our communities, so if our schools are failing, then we as a community have failed our children,” Linwood Christian, the president of the PTO told 8news anchor, Ava-joye Burnett.

The major progress at A.P. Hill Elementary is a model leaders want to replicate. This fall, the superintendent will hold forums to gauge the community’s interest for expanding year round classes to the remaining three elementary schools in Petersburg.

“It’s a process that has to be from pre-K through 12 starting at the lowest level and improving those students, making sure those students are at where they need to be as they move up the levels. It’s going to be paramount.”

With those gains, Dr. Melvin believes A.P. Hill is on track to re-gain accreditation. The Virginia Department of Education will release the latest accreditation data later this year.

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