Statewide, local SOL test results still down from pre-pandemic levels

State leaders say in-person instruction matters.
State school leaders say in-person instruction matters and it shows through statewide data.
Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 6:43 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - State school leaders say in-person instruction matters, and it shows through statewide data.

State school officials held a briefing Thursday to present the 2021-2022 statewide SOL test results.

Results from Standards of Learning and other state assessments taken by Virginia students during the 2021-2022 school year reflect the continuing impact of prolonged school closures.

“What we’re seeing in terms of the gaps is the pandemic really illuminated and exacerbated trends already happening in Virginia,” State Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera said.

For the second straight year, SOL test results fell below pre-pandemic levels.

On a state level, overall, 66% of students passed math, which is a 16-point drop from the 2018-2019 school year.

In that same time frame, there was a five-point drop in passing rates for reading.

As for science, 66% of students in the commonwealth passed, down from 80% in 2018-2019.

Guidera says it’s not just the pandemic they attribute these scores to.

“We already had a lot of kids behind, and now they’re even further behind. That’s because I would argue that we have not been paying attention or not been looking at that student local data, and we’ve been in complacency looking at student averages,” Guidera said.

The good news is there’s been improvement since students returned to classrooms.

Statewide data does show a strong correlation between in-person learning and students performing better the following year.

While local districts like Richmond saw scores hold steady or even improve from last year, the numbers are still well below state levels.

School leaders remain optimistic they’ll get students back on track in time.

“This was really a once in a century experience for our kids who were out of school for a long time, and even when we were virtual, nothing replaces in-person learning,” Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras said.

Chesterfield Schools Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty responded in a statement saying:

“There is a lot to celebrate in these numbers,” said Superintendent Merv Daugherty. “Last year was our first full year of in-person instruction since COVID-19, and scores improved. In every academic area, Chesterfield pass rates are higher now than a year ago. History and math pass rates in particular are much improved. Moreover, in all of the smaller reporting groups except two our pass rates are also higher this year compared to last year. I am proud of what our teachers and students are accomplishing, and we will continue to do what’s best for all kids. There is still work to do as we continue to focus on curriculum and instruction. Our strategic plan will guide our work over the next several years.”

Superintendent of Henrico Public Schools Dr. Amy Cashwell, says, “In light of the pandemic, these pass rates are not unexpected, but will help inform our instructional strategies as we continue to address learning gaps. We are committed to meeting every child where they are and giving them the tools, resources and pathways they need to be successful.”

The State Department of Education is delaying public hearings for history standards review by a month.

They’re looking to address errors, and content issues Governor Glenn Youngkin’s administration said were in the proposal.

Click here for a breakdown of test results by local school divisions.