Dr. James J. Fedderman, President of the Virginia Education Association, released the following statement in response to the Richmond Times Dispatch releasing the results of the Standards of Learning (SOL) state assessment:
“After promising growth in SOL results last year, the new SOL results reflect a stalling out, and cannot be an acceptable status quo given how far behind we are from pre-pandemic pass rates. Too many student groups who faced significant additional barriers to learning during the pandemic, particularly Black, Hispanic, economically disadvantaged, special education, and English learner students, are still far behind pre-pandemic average pass rates on SOL tests. It doesn’t have to be this way. We need leaders brave enough to make the bold investments necessary to resource our classrooms and move Virginia out of the bottom tier of state K-12 spending.”
Additional Information on SOL Test Results
Standards of Learning (SOL) tests are given in the spring to measure student achievement for various subjects and grade levels. Today, the Richmond Times Dispatch released statewide results from the most recent tests given in spring 2023. For at least the past 19 years, the state has released SOL results in August. The Youngkin administration released results last August blaming their predecessors for slow growth and recovery, however, with results showing a loss of momentum this year, they have simply chosen not to release the new data publicly. We are grateful to the media for bringing transparency to this data.
Average pass rates are up in science and math from the previous year, but there is no change for reading and writing, and a slight dip for history. Student groups who lost the most ground during the pandemic due to additional learning barriers remain far behind pre-pandemic pass levels. The stalling out of pass rates is troubling and cannot be accepted as the new status quo. Because Virginia spends so little on students compared to most other states, pays among the least competitive average teacher pay in the country, and barely accounts for student need in its state funding formula for schools, the highly unequal results are by design and not a surprise.
This summer, the nonpartisan legislative research arm of the General Assembly completed a year-and-a-half study on the state funding formula and noted similar findings. The report offered a road map for critical investments needed to live up to the bare minimum standards the state has set for itself, which would cost more than $4 billion annually. Fortunately, Virginia is a relatively rich state and has more than $5 billion in state surplus at the moment. Dr. James J. Fedderman, President of the Virginia Education Association noted, “The only ingredient missing in Virginia to meet all student needs is political will.”