RICHMOND, Va. -- Standards of Learning (SOL) test scores were down slightly during the 2017-18 school year compared to the previous year.
According to figures released by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE):
79 percent of the students who took reading tests passed, compared with 80 percent during 2016-2017;
78 percent passed in writing, compared with 79 percent previously;
77 percent passed in mathematics, compared with 79 percent in 2016-2017;
81 percent passed SOL tests in science, compared with 82 percent previously; and
84 percent of students tested in history and social studies passed, compared with 86 percent in 2016-2017.
"Virginia has challenging standards and assessments, and students are performing at a much higher level today than when the state raised expectations six years ago,” Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane said in a prepared statement. "Pass rates are not the only measure of school quality. If we focus solely on annual pass rates, we miss the achievement of students who are making steady progress toward the benchmarks and the efforts of schools to address issues that directly affect learning and achievement. These factors are captured in the new accreditation system, and the ratings we will report next month will provide a more complete picture of where schools are today and where they can be enhanced in the future."
New Richmond Public Schools superintendent Jason Kamras called Richmond's SOL performance "disappointing" in a message sent to Richmond parents.
"Overall, scores for Richmond Public Schools declined from last year, with pass rates hovering near 50-60 percent for all subject areas. Math, Writing and History scores decreased by 2, 3 and 5 percentage points, respectively. Reading improved by 1 percent, while Science remained flat," he said. "I'm not going to sugar coat it. These scores are deeply disappointing. Our students are capable of achieving at much higher levels. As a system, we're failing them right now. But that's going to change."
Kamras pointed to the school system's new strategic plan that will ensure Richmond students experience "exciting and rigorous instruction."
"This work will be challenging and it will take time. But we will be undeterred," he continued.
A spokesperson for Chesterfield Public Schools, Central Virginia's largest school division, said "Chesterfield County students topped state pass rates in reading,
math, and science, while meeting performance averages in writing and history."
"We measure our work to prepare Chesterfield County students with skill sets necessary to experience success after high school through a variety of ways," Chesterfield School Board Chair John Erbach said. "These measurements include but are not limited to SOL results. We believe test scores are just one indicator of how well a student is performing in school. We encourage parents to consider this as they review their students’ progress over the course of a year."
Amy E. Cashwell, Henrico County Public Schools' new superintendent, said scores are a "first step" for the district.
"We’re expecting good news when the state accreditation ratings come out in September," Cashwell wrote. "It’s a reflection of the hard work and dedication of our students, their teachers, and our school communities as a whole. We’re eager to see schools be rewarded for the growth they’ve made over several years."
"As for some specific points of pride, Henrico elementary students performed above the state on most SOL exams. Henrico students also performed above the state on several end-of-course History and Science SOLs, including World History II, Geography, Earth Science and Chemistry."
"Steady increases have been seen for Henrico students with disabilities in Reading over the past three years, and Henrico students outperformed the state in Reading and Math in the Asian, White and English Learners subgroups."
"As a school division we are focused on continuous improvement while also celebrating the growth our students and schools have worked so hard to achieve."