The scores are in. SOL numbers improve for local schools

Published 5:15 pm Thursday, August 18, 2022

FARMVILLE – The numbers are going up. That’s something we can say across the entire Herald coverage area, as the state released new SOL (Standards of Learning) scores Thursday, Aug. 18. Prince Edward, Buckingham and Cumberland districts all saw significant areas of growth. 

The same couldn’t be said, however, statewide. Across Virginia, only 66% of students passed math, compared to 82% pre-pandemic. Only 65% of students in the state passed science, compared to 81% in the 2018-19 school year. There were also problems with history, as just 66% of Virginia students passed, compared to 80% two years ago. 

Now in each case, the statewide numbers were better than last year, when the majority of tests saw 60% or fewer pass. But state officials say it’s clear there’s work to do. 

“The bottom line is that in-person instruction matters,” said Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “We can see the difference our teachers made once they were reunited with their students in their classrooms. I want to thank all of our teachers for everything they did last year to begin what will be a multiyear recovery effort.”

Good news in Buckingham

Dr. John Keeler is proud of his students, teachers and staff. The Buckingham County superintendent didn’t just see growth year over year, but the scores in many cases exceeded the state average. 

Take Buckingham High, for example. In the reading test, 82% of students passed, compared to 64% last year. The state average, meanwhile, was 73%. In writing, 74% passed at the high school, as opposed to 65% across the state (writing test scores weren’t reported to the state last year). Math is where the Buckingham High students really shined, with 86% passing the SOL test. In this case, Buckingham High was 20 percentage points above the rest of the state, which came in at 66%. It was also a dramatic bounce for the school itself, as only 58% of Buckingham High students passed the test last year. 

“We are working hard to help our students overcome the learning loss that occurred during the pandemic,” Dr. Keeler said. “We believe we will continue to improve this school year.” 

Dr. Keeler was also proud of middle and elementary students, as both were close, if not right at the state average for reading, math and science. At Buckingham Middle School, 57% of students passed the math SOL. That’s up from 30% the year before. The only problem for the middle school came with the writing test, where only 37% of students passed. At Buckingham Elementary, the school saw two major improvements, in science and math scores. Last year, only 31% of students at the school passed their SOL math test. This time, the number climbed to 47%. Then in science, 40% of students passed, compared to 26% the year before. 

“Both our elementary and middle schools had a significant portion of their students show growth in both reading and math,” Dr. Keeler said. 

Cumberland looks past SOL tests

The news was a bit mixed in Cumberland County, where the district saw some big improvements and a couple small drops. Math scores were up, with 58% of district students passing the test this year. Last year, only 33% did that. The same goes for reading, where 59% of students passed, compared to 56% last year. The only drop came in science scores, where the pass rate fell slightly from last year’s numbers. In the 2020-21 school year, 56% of Cumberland students passed science. This year, that number fell to 54%. 

The biggest changes came at Cumberland High, where the school’s 78% pass rate on reading was higher than the state’s 73%. Math scores, which were an issue last year, also saw a big jump. In the 2020-21 school year, only 16% of Cumberland High students passed their math SOL. This year, that more than doubled, to 36%. Science scores were the only point where students scored lower than last year, coming in at 60% as opposed to last year’s 68%. 

“The scores reflected what we already knew,” said Dr. Chip Jones, superintendent of Cumberland County Public Schools. “The pandemic has resulted in learning loss for many of our students.” 

But Jones also pointed to growth, both on the high school and middle school levels. A total of 61% of Cumberland Middle School students passed their math SOL, more than double last year’s 29%. Science pass rates also increased at the school, going from 39% to 49%. 

“When the state accreditation process factors in student growth from last fall to last spring, we feel sure that these scores will show how students are improving,” Jones said. “We are focusing on accelerating learning across the division.” 

SOL numbers climb for Prince Edward

Meanwhile, the numbers are all heading in the right direction for Prince Edward County Schools. The district saw more students pass the SOL in reading, math and science. The biggest improvement came in math scores, both at the high school and district level. 

Last year, only 21% of Prince Edward High students passed their math SOL. This year, that number hit 60%, more than double. Overall across the district, 51% of students passed the test, a big improvement over just 25% last year. 

Another highlight in this year’s scores came in reading at Prince Edward High. A total of 75% of students passed their reading SOL, compared to 67% last year. The school’s pass rate was also higher than the state average, coming in at 73%. 

The Herald reached out to Prince Edward Superintendent Dr. Barbara Johnson for comment, but hadn’t heard back as of 5 p.m.