By Stefanie Jackson – The Accomack school board voted 8-1 Tuesday night to allow fall sports in the upcoming school year – including football, volleyball, cross-country running, and cheerleading – upon the recommendation of Superintendent Chris Holland.
The school division must be “flexible” if COVID-19 circumstances change, he noted.
Nandua High School soccer team members, who won the Division II Boys Soccer State Championship June 23, were present at the school board meeting to receive official letters from the Virginia House of Delegates and Del. Rob Bloxom congratulating them on their achievement.
When the school board asked if any students wanted to comment on how teamwork brought them success, co-captains Cameron Mears and Sebastian Bonilla stepped forward.
“I think the number one thing that really stands out about this team is how truly diverse we are,” Mears said. “This wasn’t something that was pushed upon us. I think it was just something that we accepted … never even thought about. These are the guys I’ve played with for close to my entire life. … These guys are like brothers to me.”
Bonilla added, “I think at first, at some times, our diversity seemed like a challenge … different languages being spoken at practice,” he said. “But through our work on and off the field, we’ve found brothers, become a family. We were able to bring home the state title.”
Director of Accountability and Assessment Sandy Drummond announced that students will face more testing when they return to school this fall. The Virginia General Assembly passed legislation this year requiring students in grades three to eight to be assessed periodically throughout the school year for academic growth in reading and math.
In the upcoming school year, two assessments will be given – in the fall and spring. Starting with the 2022-2023 school year, three assessments will be given annually – in the fall, mid-year, and spring.
State legislation requires the first testing to occur between Aug. 13 and Oct. 15; Accomack’s assessments will be administered Sept. 22 through Sept. 30.
The mandatory assessments will be online computer adaptive tests aligned with the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) but shorter than the SOL tests given this spring, with 17 to 19 items for reading and 20 to 25 items for math.
No virtual testing will be available. Virtual Virginia students must come to school in person to take the assessments.
Paper tests will be provided if needed; these will be full-length SOL tests during the fall testing period only.
Each student must answer every question on the test. The student will not be able to advance to the next question until he or she answers the current question; neither will the student be permitted to return to a previous question.
The fall tests will cover the material taught during the previous school year. For example, fourth graders will be assessed in third grade reading and math.
Because the tests are designed to measure growth, students will receive not a grade of “pass” or “fail” but a numeric score on a vertical scale. Retakes will not be permitted.
Drummond is preparing a letter to send home to parents explaining the importance of the new assessments.
School board members suggested taking additional measures to encourage students taking the tests to put forth their best efforts even though they will not receive passing or failing grades.
Coordinator of School Health Services Tonya Martin reported there have been no cases of COVID-19 in Accomack schools so far this summer.
Virginia’s mask mandate for schools remains in effect through July 25.
The Accomack schools health task force will meet Aug. 2 to determine what COVID-19 mitigation measures will be required when students return to school in the fall, Martin said.