Staunton students increase SOL scores for 2023, but chronic absenteeism increases
Local, Schools

Staunton students increase SOL scores for 2023, but chronic absenteeism increases

Rebecca Barnabi
(© sebra –

Staunton Schools report continued growth in the latest SOL data released by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).

The pass rates of students in reading, math and science increased across the school system for the 2022-2023 school year. In 2021-2022, Staunton’s schools made the most growth of any schools in the Commonwealth when pre-pandemic and post-pandemic scores were compared.

“Achievement results released by the state demonstrate that students in Staunton City Schools are making steady and consistent progress as we continue to recover from the effects of the pandemic,” said Superintendent of Staunton City Schools Dr. Garett Smith. “We’re proud of the efforts of our students, teachers and staff in maintaining high expectations for learning and citizenship. None of the improvements would be possible without the support of our families and community. We have identified areas in need of improvement and have plans in place to bring those up to standard. Congratulations on a successful school year, and we look forward to even better results this year.”

Reading score is 73 percent for 2022-2023, the same as before the COVID-19 pandemic, and is two percent higher than last year. Staunton students exceed the state average in reading. Grades K-2 showed growth on early literacy screenings and reached their highest level of performance.

In math, students increased the overall pass rate to 67 percent, an increase of 2 percent from last year’s score. Staunton students are at or above the state average in math in multiple groups, including Black, Hispanic and economically disadvantaged.

Scores in science also increased to 71 percent, an increase of 5 percent from 2022. Elementary, middle and high schools in Staunton exceeded the state average in science and were at or above the state average in all reporting groups.

All of Staunton’s elementary schools and Staunton High School are fully accredited. Only Shelburne Middle School is accredited with conditions.

Highlights include Bessie Weller Elementary students exceeding reading and math benchmarks in all reporting groups and increasing in science by 26 percent, as well as scoring above the state average in all subjects.

McSwain Elementary students exceeded reading and math benchmarks in all reporting groups with rates of 86 to 99 percent and was above the state average in all tested subjects and grades.

Ware Elementary students with disabilities increased reading scores by 35 percent in one year to a 90 percent score and increased the school’s science rate.

Students at Shelburne Middle exceeded the accreditation benchmark for the total population in reading, math and science, with science scores exceeding the state average by 7 percent.

Staunton High’s students exceeded English benchmarks in all reporting groups, increased the overall math percentage by 7 percent, and exceeded the state average in Writing, Biology and World History I.

The school system has a plan to continue the positive trend of SOL scores: continue to work together and support teaching and learning with observations and feedback; provide intervention for students who need additional support; and work to boost attendance.

Staunton Schools has seen an increase in chronic absenteeism, defined as students missing 17 school days or more in a school year, since the pandemic. Elementary schools have an average increase of 3 percent of chronic absenteeism from 2019 to 2023, and middle and high schools an average increase of 10 percent from 2019 to 2023.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.

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