Virginia’s New Education Scores Show Students Lagging Behind Pre-Pandemic Levels

Pass rate data show students improved over prior year, but results are still below the state’s baseline and reflect the impact of prolonged closures.

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Virginia’s pass rates from the Standards of Learning tests and other assessments released last week continue to remain lower than results before the pandemic.

Pass rate data show that all students performed better over the past year, when students returned to in-person learning, compared to the prior year.

However, education officials said the results are below the state’s baseline and reflect the impact of the prolonged school closures.

“The bottom line is that in-person instruction matters. When we compare the 2021-22 data with achievement in 2020-21 — when the majority of our students were learning remotely or on hybrid schedules — we can see the difference our teachers made once they were reunited with their students in their classrooms,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow in a statement.

The Standards of Learning tests, which help measure the success of students in meeting the Board of Education’s expectations for learning and achievement, are administered in several subject areas, including mathematics, reading, science, writing, and history and social science.

Results show that in 2021-22, 66% of students overall passed the mathematics test compared to 82% before the pandemic. On reading tests, 73% of students overall passed compared to 78% before the pandemic.

Student pass rates improved over the past two school years, except in the area of writing, where they dropped by 4%.

Education officials said there is a “strong correlation” between in-person instruction and higher achievement.

Data show that 69% of students who had in-person instruction for nearly all of 2020-21 and 62% of students who had in-person instruction for most of 2020-21 passed their 2021-22 math tests, compared with 39% and 37% who experienced nearly all or mostly remote instruction, respectively.

Education officials said in order to address learning loss due to the pandemic, parents will have access to individualized progress reports for students in grades 1-8. Virginia will start with selected school divisions in the fall before expanding across the commonwealth.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin said in a statement that the results demonstrate that the school shutdowns “undeniably exacerbated” Virginia’s students and the best “antidote” is in-person education.

The SOL test data, which are used to determine school accreditation ratings, will be released next month.

Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: info@virginiamercury.com. Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.

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