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Franklin, Southampton SOL pass rates fall in ’20-’21

The results of Virginia’s 2020-21 Standards of Learning tests taken by public school students in Franklin and Southampton County featured notable declines in pass rates across all subjects compared to results from 2018-19, with the strongest drops coming in mathematics.

A Virginia Department of Education news release noted that these drops followed trends on state tests nationwide and were expected, reflecting the extraordinary circumstances faced by students and schools last year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020-21 results also establish a baseline for recovery from the pandemic.

SOL test results for the 2019-20 school year are not available because COVID-19 led to the closure of schools then and cancellation of state assessments.

Consequently, the pass rates for 2020-21 were compared to the most recent ones recorded prior, which were from 2018-19.

Of all Southampton County Public Schools students who were tested in English and reading, 80% passed the test in 2018-19 and 66% passed it in 2020-21. The pass rate in mathematics went from 85% to 44%, and in science it went from 87% to 52%.

Of all Franklin City Public Schools students who were tested in English and reading, the pass rate went from 69% to 50%. The pass rate in mathematics went from 69% to 23%, and in science, it went from 67% to 49%.

The VDOE release noted that the 2020-21 pass rates reflect disruptions to instruction caused by the pandemic, decreased participation in state assessment programs, pandemic-related declines in enrollment, fewer retakes, and more flexible “opt-out” provisions for parents concerned about community spread of COVID-19.

“What matters now is where we go from here, and we will use the data from the SOLs to identify the unique needs of every learner as our schools resume in-person instruction for all students,” Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. James F. Lane said in the release.

Each local school system also experienced an anomalous gain at the school level in a given subject among all students tested.

At Meherrin Elementary School, of all students tested in English and reading, 71% passed the test in 2018-19 and that number jumped to 81% in 2020-21.

At Joseph P. King Jr. Middle School, of all students tested in science, 69% passed the test in 2018-19 and that number jumped to 80% in 2020-21.