5 teachers fired after investigation finds SOL violations at Petersburg elementary school

PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — Five teachers have been fired in Petersburg after an investigation determined that Standards of Learning (SOL) testing procedures were violated at A.P. Hill Elementary School this spring. A new principal and assistant principal have also been appointed to the school.

According to Petersburg City Public Schools, students reported that while taking SOL tests online, they were instructed to write their answers on a piece of paper and raise their hand. An administrator would then instruct the student to check their work if the answer was wrong. Data from the online tests showed that some students took as long as an hour to move from one questions to the next.

“Our investigation led to the conclusion that some teachers violated the trust placed in them by their students, by school system leaders and by the community,” Superintendent Marcus Newsome said. “Students did not understand that the way SOL tests were being conducted in some classrooms was irregular. Violations were found in the way that tests were administered, not in the actions of students.”

A.P. Hill Elementary students will not be asked to re-take the tests, which were given in reading and math for grades 3-5 and in history and science for grade 5. Students will not receive score reports for any spring 2017 SOL tests, Virginia Grade Level Alternative assessments or Virginia Alternate Assessment Program assessments because the integrity of the test results cannot be determined.

Because of the testing violations, A.P. Hill Elementary’s accreditation will likely be withheld by the state.

“It’s disappointing, it kind of feels like they don’t have any confidence in the kids when you have kids that are really smart,” parent Kendra Crockett told 8News.

Now, because of the test scores being thrown out, students who studied hard and passed are left disappointed.

I actually worked hard for this, we worked hard on reading, we worked hard on math,” student Kamilah Crockett said. “All we did in all of our classes was reading and math, math and reading. I don’t think it feels really good.”

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Source: Petersburg elementary school under investigation for possibly cheating on SOLs

On June 12, representatives from the Virginia Department of Education notified PCPS officials that they had received an allegation of testing irregularities at A.P. Hill Elementary.

The school system immediately began a comprehensive investigation that included interviews with students, teachers and administrators.

“We must ensure the integrity of the testing environment, and violators of state procedures will face consequences. The vast majority of our teachers, staff members and administrators are doing the right thing to improve instruction and academic achievement throughout the school system. Petersburg students can and will succeed when we provide engaging and relevant learning opportunities,” Superintendent Marcus Newsome said back in June.

“I encourage all staff members to report concerns about any irregularities to my office.”

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