Local school districts exceed state SOL averages, but with African Americans showing lowest scores

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While school is about to start again, the Virginia Department of Education has finally released standardized testing data from the previous school year.

On Tuesday, VDOE announced that data from the Standards of Learning Tests had been compiled for each school district in Virginia from the 2018-2019 school year.

“The achievement in a school, a division or in the commonwealth as a whole must be viewed in the context of these changes in student test-taking patterns, standards and assessments,” said James Lane, superintendent of public instruction. “These changes were significant and performance on last year’s SOL tests marks the beginning of new trend lines in mathematics, science and history.” 

Tests are taken on the subjects of history, science, math, writing, and reading.

The state passing averages are as follows: 

  • Reading, 78
  • Writing, 76
  • Math, 82
  • Science, 81
  • History, 80

Williamsburg-James City County

In Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools, the percent of students who passed was higher than the state average in all of the categories. However, black students consistently had the lowest passing rates of all racial groups while white or Asian students came out on top in every category.

“This year’s scores reflect the hard work and commitment of our students, staff and administrators,” said Olwen Herron, superintendent of WJCC Public Schools. “Scores for all students not only exceed the established benchmarks, they remain above the state average. Our focus, however, is on growth and continuous improvement beyond benchmarks.”

In Williamsburg, 81 percent of students passed the reading test, which was one point less than the previous year. 

Black students showed the lowest scores with a passing rate of 63 percent while Asian students had the highest passing numbers at 91 percent.

On reading assessments, 80 percent of students in Williamsburg passed, which is three points lower than the previous year. Black students showed the lowest passing rate at 60 percent, while Asian and white students tied for the highest scores with 88 percent passing rate.

For math, 86 percent of students in WJCC passed the assessments, which is seven points higher than the previous years. Of the overall numbers, only 69 percent of black students passed, which is 10 points higher than the previous year, while 95 percent of Asian students passed.

On science assessments, 84 percent of WJCC students passed. Of black students, 62 percent passed, which was six points lower than the previous year, while 95 percent of Asian students passed, which is two points higher than the previous year.

York County School District

In the York County School Division, students also scored above state average in every category.

“We are proud of the successes our students and teachers achieve year after year,” said Stephanie Guy, chief academic officer, in a news release. “Most notably, gains made division-wide in math, both overall and within each student subgroup, demonstrate our commitment to continuous improvement.”

In reading, 88 percent of YCSD students passed the SOLs, which is 10 points higher than the state average. The passing rate for black students was 78 percent, and white and Asian students had the highest passing rates at 90 percent. 

For writing, 84 percent of students passed, with 72 percent of black students and 96 percent of Asian students passing. Students scored above state passing average in math at 92 percent, with 82 percent of black students passing and 96 percent of Asian students.

In science, 90 percent of students passed the SOL, which is nearly 10 points higher than the state average. However, only 76 percent of black students passed; 94 percent of Asian students passed.

Finally in history, 88 percent of YCSD passed, of which 72 percent of black students passed the and 92 percent of Asian passed.

Additionally, the district noted that in certain subgroups there were rises in averages. Third grade reading passing rates rose by 10 percent and fifth grade students with disabilities saw an overall improvement of 13 percent, which exceeded the state pass rate by more than 25 percent.

“We are excited to see progress in student subgroups but we also recognize the importance of growth for all students,” Guy said. “In recent years, we have provided extensive professional development and resources to our schools that have had a direct and positive impact on daily instruction.” 

YCSD said in the release that the division will collaborate with administrators and teachers to identify the next steps for improvement based on the data. A comprehensive report and accreditation status will be given to the York County School Board during the work session on Sept. 9.

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