Virginia students still showing decline in reading and math scores

Virginia's Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Coons visits a Roanoke school recently
Virginia's Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Coons visits a Roanoke school recently(wdbj7)
Published: Sep. 7, 2023 at 11:13 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WVVA) - Virginia students continue to demonstrate learning loss in reading and math.

The state Department of Education released the 2022-23 school year assessment results, which showed a “significant and persistent learning loss in reading and math for Virginia students in grades 3-8. More than half of 3rd-8th graders either failed or are at risk of failing their reading SOL (Standards of Learning) exam, and nearly two-thirds of 3rd-8th graders either failed, or are at risk of failing, their math SOL exam.

“Grade 3 through 8 Virginia students are still struggling to recover the learning loss from the pandemic and are not performing as well as their pre-pandemic peers,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Coons in the announcement. “The 2022-2023 SOL data demonstrates just how important school attendance is for students’ academic success. VDOE recommends school divisions allocate this $418 million in learning loss resources to proven programs that will achieve the greatest student impact--approximately 70% for high-dose tutoring, 20% for Virginia Literacy Act implementation, and 10% for chronic absenteeism response.”

Coons said pass rates for every elementary and middle-school grade are behind 2018-19 pass rates, both in reading and in math.

The pass rates are even more alarming when considering the large number of students who are in the “low proficient” level and would have likely failed the SOLs under the 2018-2019 cut scores, she added.

Proficiency cut scores were lowered between the 2018-2019 and 2020-2021 test administration. These lowered cut scores enabled students to pass that would not have otherwise received a passing score. Students who fall into this band are considered “low proficient.”

According to the results, Hispanic and Black 3-8th grade students experienced the most significant declines in reading and math performance from 2018-2019 to 2022-2023, with an 8 percent and 7 percent decline, respectively, in reading and 20 percent in math.

Attendance is key, the report said, and the Department of Education is conducting a statewide attendance campaign (#AttendanceMattersVA) aimed at reducing absenteeism rates across the Commonwealth. The campaign works with Virginia schools and parents to increase attendance by communicating the importance of attendance to families, expanding breakfast after the bell programs, ensuring that every child has a trusted adult at school, monitoring and celebrating successes, and reducing barriers to attendance such as transportation and mental health challenges.