Surry improves on some standardized tests, lags on others

Published 5:05 pm Monday, September 11, 2023

Learning loss from the monthslong shutdown of Virginia’s schools during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic may indeed be driving continued underperformance on the state’s Standards of Learning, or SOL, exams, as Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration contends in its “All In VA” remediation plan, but Surry County High School has for the second year in a row bucked the trend on one test.

Ninety percent of SCHS students passed the 2022-23 math SOL exam. The figure is one point lower than the 91% who passed the exam in 2021-22 but four points higher than the 86% who passed in 2018-19, the last school year prior to the start of the pandemic.

Surry County Public Schools’ divisionwide pass rates, however, remain below their pre-pandemic levels.

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The Virginia Department of Education released the results of the 2022-23 school year’s standardized tests on Sept. 7.

Divisionwide, 76% of Surry students passed the reading test. The figure is three percentage points higher than the statewide pass rate and two points shy of the division’s 78% 2018-19 pass rate.

Seventy percent of Surry students passed the writing test, up five points from the statewide average but six points below the division’s rate from 2018-19.

The three subject areas showing the largest divisionwide gap between the 2022-23 results and Surry’s pre-pandemic scores are math, history and science.

The 70% of Surry’s students who passed the math exam and the 67% who passed the history test each reflect an 11 point drop from the 2018-19 pass rates for those tests.

Largely driving the divisionwide history score is Surry Elementary, which saw less than half of its student body pass the test during the past two school years compared to the 83% who had done so prior to the pandemic.

Surry Elementary saw 58% of its students pass the math exam, down 22 points from the 80% who’d passed in 2018-19, though the 2022-23 pass rate is nine points higher from the 49% who passed in 2021-22.

Luther Porter Jackson Middle School and SCHS each saw a gap of at least 10 percentage points between its 2022-23 science pass rate and the rate for 2018-19.

A nearly equal number of white and Black students passed the reading and writing exams. Surry had 685 students enrolled divisionwide during the 2022-23 school year, more than half of whom identify as Black or mixed-race.

Sixty-two percent of Black students passed the math exam, compared to a 75% pass rate for white students. The 12 point gap is less than half what it was during the 2021-22 school year.

Black students’ performance on the science exams also saw improvement, with 63% passing compared to 59% the prior year. The pass rate among white students, meanwhile, increased from 73% in 2021-22 to 75% in 2022-23

The only category in which racial test score disparities did not show significant improvement was on the history exam. Last year, 57% of white students and 56% of Black students passed. This year, the white pass rate rose to 76% while the Black pass rate remained only one point higher, at 57%.

All of Surry County Public Schools’ divisionwide test scores were above the statewide average for 2022-23.