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October 8, 2014 Published in Editorials

Congratulations T. C. Williams

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The College Board released the SAT scores for the spring of 2014 this week and they contained some good news for Alexandria City Public Schools. SAT participation and scores are at a five year high and the gaps between Alexandria and the state and nation have begun to narrow. This progress reflects much hard work by Principal Suzanne Maxey and her staff and by the students at T. C. Williams. It also reflects the commitment and endeavor of staff at all levels in the school district because education is a cumulative process built up year by year.

Alexandria encourages its students to take the tests and in the spring of 2014 67% did so. Of that group, nearly 73% were minority students. That is reflective of Alexandria’s school system. Nearly 32% had family incomes below $30,000 per year and 23% did not have English as their first language. These figures are far higher than those for the State of Virginia or the United States as a whole against which we are compared.

This is important when looking at SAT scores because they correlate with income. In general, the higher the income the higher the scores on the SAT will be. In Alexandria, minority students and students who are not native English speakers tend to be from families with lower household incomes. In 2014 scores for our Black and Asian students are at five year highs. Education is not easy here but the results show we can do it.

The great news is that ACPS is making progress and slowly closing the gap in performance between our students and those of the state and nation. A comparison of the gaps between Alexandria and Virginia and the Nation in 2014 and 2013 shows that Alexandria’s students in total narrowed those gaps across all three tests for reading, math and writing. Those gaps narrowed comparing us to Virginia and to the U.S. as a whole.

As good as these results are, however, there is more to be done. Graduating classes vary in abilities and the sample size is small. Past results cannot predict what the 2015 results will be. The 2014 results showed that scores for White and Hispanic students slipped and the trend among Hispanic scores is downward over the past three years.  This is not the time to rest and celebrate but a time to push forward with hope. Just a few years ago T. C. Williams had the label of underperforming. Today that label is looking like a thing of the past.

We know the School Board is justly proud of this accomplishment. We know Dr. Crawley is as well. We hope that this success invigorates staff and students across the entire school system and motivates them to continue to do the work that must be done to help each of our students reach his or her full potential.

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