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Politics, Schools, Virginia

Virginia’s 131 school divisions finalize plans to address post-COVID-19 learning loss

Rebecca Barnabi
student school test
(© sebra – stock.adobe.com)

Virginia’s public schools really are all in for students after finalizing ALL in VA plans to address significant learning loss through high intensity tutoring, literacy education and measures to promote attendance.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced today that all of Virginia’s 131 school divisions finalized plans after he set a challenge in September for all school divisions to urgently create ALL in VA comprehensive plans tailored to their specific divisions and to take aggressive action to ensure students get academic support needed to recover learning loss, boost attendance and academic performance.

“I’m pleased all of Virginia’s school divisions have heeded my call to urgently and aggressively take action to help our students recover from the COVID pandemic learning loss,” Youngkin said. “I’m pleased that today every school division has embraced that challenge and are committed to getting our students back on track academically.”

The Commonwealth has dedicated $418 million in flexible funding for schools to aid in learning loss recovery and implement the Virginia Literacy Act. School divisions have thought creatively of ways to implement best practices and offer high-intensity tutoring to students before and after school, modifying in-school schedules and offering Saturday sessions as options to help their students.

“When Virginians set their mind to ensuring every student receives the supports they need, kids thrive,” said Secretary Aimee Guidera. “This milestone is a meaningful testament to the leadership and commitment of our school divisions and community volunteers to students and families.”

Virginia students continue to face major challenges post-pandemic. Virginia’s 2022-2023 Standards of Learning (SOL) scores show that students continue to suffer from historic learning loss and struggle meeting proficiency benchmarks across reading and math, showing decline from the prior year’s results, and student achievement remains well below pre-pandemic levels.

Reading scores remain below pre-pandemic performance. Students showed no growth between the 2021-22 and the 2022-23 school years. In 2022-2023, more than half of all 3rd- to 8th-grade students either failed, or are at risk of failing, their reading SOL test.

Math scores remain below pre-pandemic performance. While students made some gains between 2021-22 and 2022-23, math pass rates are still 15 percentage points behind their pre-pandemic peers. As of 2022-23, nearly two thirds of all 3rd- to 8th-grade students either failed, or are at risk of failing, their Math SOL test.

During the 2022-2023 school year, nearly one in five 3rd- to 8th-grade students were chronically absent, defined as missing 18 or more days of school a year. This is nearly double the number of students compared to the 2018-2019 school year.

“Our school divisions have been thoughtful in their planning and have really examined the unique challenges facing their students and their communities,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Coons. “They have developed meaningful plans to help their students catch up and step ahead to prepare them with the solid academic foundation they need recover and be successful.”

The plans from all of Virginia’s school divisions are available online.

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.