Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today that student scores on the Standards of Learning (SOL) tests have improved significantly since last year. Statewide, students posted five-point overall gains in reading and mathematics while increasing by two points each in writing, science and history.
Following the passage of SOL reform legislation, the 2014-2015 school year was the first in which elementary and middle school students were allowed to retake a test if they fell short of passing by just a few points. On average, the performance of these students following a retake increased pass rates by about four points on each test.
“I am so proud of the dedication shown by teachers, students, and the administrative staff of these schools in pursuing academic success.” Governor McAuliffe said. “The legislation that we proposed and that I signed into law not only gives students a second chance, but more importantly, gives them the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of the material. By joining bipartisan legislation with the hard work of local school divisions, we are well on the way to preparing all of our students to succeed in the new Virginia economy.”
Statewide, 79 percent of students passed the mathematics test for their grade level or course, compared with 74 percent during 2013-2014. In reading, 79 percent of students passed the test for their grade level, an increase of five points over 2013-2014. Achievement increased on four of the five SOL science tests and was up by two points overall.
“SOL reform is crucial to building Virginia’s 21st century workforce,” Secretary of Education Anne Holton said. “These scores prove that when we increase classroom flexibility and unleash a student’s full potential, we see great results. I can’t wait to continue our work with the SOL Innovation Committee to establish more recommendations that pave the way for further success.”
Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples said, “Virginia teachers and students are adapting to the more rigorous standards implemented by the state Board of Education several years ago. The positive trend lines confirm that meeting these new standards is possible, although it will take time for schools to complete the adjustment.”
African-American and Hispanic students also improved their scores, making significant progress toward closing persistent achievement gaps. Overall performance of African-American students in mathematics improved by seven points in 2014-2015, while Hispanic students achieved six-point gains in reading and mathematics.
“The state Board of Education increased the rigor of the SOLs — of both the standards and of the assessments — so students will be better prepared for college and for opportunities in the 21st-century workforce,” VirginiaBoard of Education President Billy K. Cannaday Jr. said. “Teachers, principals, division superintendents and other educators deserve great credit for the progress students are making toward achieving these higher expectations.”
State accreditation ratings will be issued this fall, following the adoption by the Board of Education of revised accreditation standards aligned with legislation approved by the 2015 General Assembly.