Isle of Wight SOL pass rates up, but still below pre-pandemic scores

Published 6:16 pm Thursday, August 18, 2022

Isle of Wight County Schools saw improvement in its reading and math Standards of Learning test scores this past school year, but hasn’t yet returned to its pre-pandemic pass rates.

Virginia’s Department of Education released the results of the 2021-22 statewide standardized tests Wednesday afternoon.

Divisionwide in Isle of Wight County, 78% of students passed the reading test, up five points from the 73% pass rate reported for the 2020-21 school year, but still below the 80% pass rate reported for the 2018-19 school year.

In math, the division scored a 73% pass rate, up from 61% in 2020-21 but still 10 points below the 83% pass rate reported for 2018-19.

The state canceled its 2019-20 tests during the early spread of COVID-19, making the 2020-21 SOLs a first look at the learning loss students experienced during months of virtual learning.

The 2021-22 results, the VDOE notes, are the state’s first with all 132 Virginia school divisions having returned to in-person learning and normal levels of student participation in the state testing program. In a typical school year, participation in these federally required tests is around 99%. In 2021, fewer than 80% of students statewide had taken the reading and math assessments, and writing and history scores were not reported due to widespread use of local assessments in lieu of the standardized test for those subjects – making the 2021-22 writing and history results Virginia’s first since pre-pandemic school years.

In Isle of Wight, 73% of students passed the 2021-22 writing test, down five points from 78% in 2018-19, and 72% passed the 2021-22 history test, down from 80% in 2018-19.

The county still has a disparity in test scores among students with disabilities and along racial lines, but the gaps have returned or are closing the gap with their pre-pandemic levels, according to the 2021-22 data.

White versus Black gap stands at 19 percentage points, with 84% of white students having passed the 2021-22 reading test compared to 65% of Black students. In 2020-21, the racial gap had widened to 23 points, with 69% of white students passing versus only 40% of Black students. The racial gap reported for the 2018-19 school year was also 19 points, with 86% of white students passing compared to 67% of Black students.

On the 2021-22 math test, the pass rate was 79% for whites and 58% for Blacks – a 21-point gap. In 2020-21, the gap had widened to 29 points, with 69% of whites and only 40% of Blacks passing. In 2018-19, the gap stood at 18 points, with 88% of whites and 70% of Blacks passing.

Students with disabilities scored a 42% pass rate on the 2021-22 reading test compared to the 78% pass rate for all students, resulting in a 36 point gap. The gap stood at 35 points as of 2018-19 when students with disabilities had a 45% pass rate compared to 80% for all students, and had widened to 39 points in 2020-21 when only 34% of students with disabilities passed versus the 73% pass rate for all students.

On the 2021-22 math test, the pass rate was 36% for students with disabilities compared to 73% for all students, resulting in a 37-point gap. The gap stood at 40 points in 2020-21 when only 21% of students with disabilities passed compared to a 61% pass rate for all students. Pre-pandemic, 45% of students with disabilities passed the 2018-19 math test compared to an 83% pass rate for all students, resulting in a 38 point gap.

“The prolonged closure of schools exacerbated downward trends in achievement that began several years before COVID-19 and our efforts to address learning loss must go beyond making up for lost seat time,” Virginia Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera said in a VDOE press release. “Moving forward, we must restore a culture of high expectations for every child in every school in the commonwealth. This includes working with the Board of Education to raise standards, increase transparency and create an accountability system that drives improvement and sets grade-level achievement as the goal for every child.”

Isle of Wight County Schools has not yet responded to The Smithfield Times’ request for comments on the 2021-22 test results.