While students saw across-the-board gains in the 2021-2022 school year compared to the previous academic year, state education officials said the progress was not enough, and pinned some of the good news on lowered standards — not on better student performance.
“Despite the scores being up from last year, they are down from pre-pandemic levels,” said Jillian Balow, state superintendent of public education, in a news conference Thursday.
The standards of learning data also showed that schools that returned to in-person instruction sooner fared considerably better than schools that remained virtual or hybrid longer.
“Students whose schools were closed suffered the most,” Balow said.
Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin tied the results to school closures, and pledged to address disparities.
“The SOL results released today demonstrate that prolonged school shutdowns undeniably exacerbated the learning loss experienced by Virginia’s students, and the very best [antidote] is in-person education,” Youngkin said.
The differences were particularly stark in mathematics. Two-thirds of students passed math exams last school year, compared to 82 percent before the pandemic. Racial and economic disparities also widened, with White and Asian students making more progress toward their pre-pandemic levels than Black and Hispanic students.
Passage rates remained more than 20 points behind pre-pandemic levels in math for Black, Hispanic and economically disadvantaged students, and among students learning English.
All groups fared better in reading than they did in math, but state officials said that was due to the fact that standards were lowered in 2021, and cautioned against optimism.
The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”
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