Scores on standardized tests taken last fall by Fairfax County students remain virtually the same as last year's results, school officials announced this week.
Under state law, the Science and Research Associate tests are administered to all fourth, eighth and eleventh grade students. Fairfax also tests sixth graders.
As in the past, the highest scores were in the fourth and sixth grades where many students scored in the top 25th to 30th percentiles nationally. The lowest scores were among eleventh graders who scored in the 55th percentiles in spelling and science.
Superintendent Linton Deck said he was "pleased" with the results, but noted that school officials were concerned about low scores in spelling in all grades and overall scores for 11th graders.
He rejected the theory, however, that the scores indicated the longer students remain in the Fairfax schools the poorer they do on the tests.
"This tends to be a phenomenon which happens everywhere," Deck said, noting that many high school students are selecting their own courses and may be neglecting areas that are part of the standardized tests.
Deck said that next year state officials may permit the tests to be administered in the spring rather than fall which would benefit students who are tested on materials they are not scheduled to study until later in the year.
"The tests are an imprecise measure at best," Deck said, adding that the school system has no plans to tailor its curriculum to ensure higher scores.
Fairfax County scores compare favorably with neighboring jurisdictions, which released their results last month. Fairfax students scored much higher in most areas than their Alexandria neighbors but did not show the same improvement that was found among Arlington students.
When asked how Fairfax students measure up to those in other jurisdictions, Deck said he was not interested in making comparisons nationally, statewide or locally.
"Comparisons like that are not what testing is all about," Deck said. "If you use it (results) just to make nice tables, I think you're wasting money.
"These tests should be used as diagnostic tools to help individual students."