The latest Standards of Learning (SOL) results released Tuesday were neither a triumph nor a failure for city schools. They simply confirm what everyone already knows: RPS has room to improve – a lot of room.
While the district made incremental gains in reading and math in the 2014-2015 school year, its pass rates fell well short of state averages and its regional peers. A somewhat muted statement from school administrators declared the results were evidence of progress, while acknowledging they demonstrate the importance of implementing Superintendent Dana Bedden’s academic improvement plan in the coming year.
A closer look at the data, available on the Virginia Department of Education website, shows the areas where the system’s students are struggling, as well as how scores differentiate among gender, race and socioeconomic lines.
- RPS students know their history better than any other subject: 71.7 percent of students passed that SOL. The district’s worst subject? Writing. Only 47.5 percent of students passed the test.
- In all subject areas, a higher percentage of female students than male students passed the SOLs. The biggest gap was in writing (54.8 percent of female students passed compared to 40.3 percent of male students).
- The percentage of black students, who account for three out of four students in the district, passing the math SOL has increased by about 16 percent over the last three years, to more than 58 percent. Nearly 85 percent of white students passed the math SOL last year.
- Over the last three years, the district’s surging Hispanic enrollment made gains on the reading SOL, moving from a 52 percent pass rate in the 2012-2013 school year to a 61 percent pass rate last year. Math scores saw a similar increase, but science scores dropped from a 69 percent pass rate to 62 percent.
- District-wide, the percentage of students classified as economically disadvantaged who have passed the reading SOL has increased over the last three years, from 43.4 percent to 53.4 percent. During that same period, among that same group of students, the pass rate on the writing test has fallen from 48.4 percent to 41.6 percent.
- The city’s highest performing elementary school is George Washington Carver, where at least 90 percent of students passed in each subject area. The city’s lowest performing elementary school is Woodville, where fewer than 30 percent of students passed reading, math and science tests.
- The city’s highest performing middle school is Albert Hill, where at least 65 percent of students passed in each subject area. The city’s lowest performing middle school is Martin Luther King Jr., where fewer than 30 percent of students passed reading, writing, math and science tests.
- The city’s highest performing comprehensive high school is John Marshall, where more than 80 percent of students passed reading, history and science tests. The city’s lowest performing high school is Armstrong, where fewer than 65 percent of students passed in each subject area.