Late at night, the halls of Mount Vernon Elementary School are quiet except for a few parents who have arrived for a PTA meeting.
In Virginia, new standardized test scores show that students who live along the Route 1 corridor in Fairfax County are struggling to meet minimum standards.
It's after 8 o'clock on a school night at Mount Vernon High School. Most of the students and teachers have left the building. But Parent-Teacher Association President Jeanette Kraynak is here.
"We're holding parent teacher meetings, and I have 12 people showing up. Parents do not attend and support," she says.
Half of Fairfax County Schools accredited with warning are in the Mount Vernon area, where the typical school has 67 percent of students living in poverty.
"Parents sometimes avoid the school based on statistics without really knowing anything about the school," says Dana Melvin, a member of the PTA. "I think all of us here believe that our children are getting very good education at the school. We wouldn't be here if they weren't."
Assistant Superintendent Deborah Tyler says it's difficult to explain why half of the county's schools that did not meet minimum standards are clustered here. "Did we hit a roadblock? Yes, this time we did. And are we very reflective and being very proactive in addressing it? We absolutely are," she says.
Five of the six schools accredited with warning here failed to meet minimum standards for science, creating a vast disparity in the county, where Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology has a 100 percent pass rate for science. And yet only 46 percent of students at Mount Vernon Woods Elementary School were able to pass the science test.
"These new test scores that came out are part of the legacy of the county sort of over-investing in wind tunnels, optical lasers and wave pools at Thomas Jefferson while you have massive numbers of children waiting for Head Start and subsidized childcare," says Delegate Scott Surovell who represents the area in the House of Delegates.
Surovell says one thing the county could do to increase science scores in Mount Vernon is restore the planetarium at Carl Sandburg Middle School, which has been sitting unused for years.
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