Arlington Public Schools continued to show significant variations by race and ethnicity on state-mandated Standards of Learning tests (SOLs), according to new data.
While the school system posted pass rates at or above – in some cases, well above – the state average, there remained a local as well as statewide gap between the performance of white and Asian students on one side of the ledger, black and Latino students on the other.
The Virginia Department of Education reported data on Aug. 13. The raw figures will be used to determine the status of individual schools’ accreditation status in September.
Arlington school officials say they expect to have all schools fully accredited for 2019-20, the fifth consecutive year all schools have garnered full accreditation.
Students take SOLs at the end of certain grade levels and, in high school, after completing specific courses.
For tests taken at the end of the 2018-19 school year, pass rates for Arlington students stood at 84 percent for reading (up from 83 percent); 86 percent for writing (unchanged); 87 percent for math (up from 83 percent); 86 percent for science (up from 84 percent); and 80 percent in history (down from 86 percent).
The statewide pass rates were 78 percent for reading, 76 percent for writing, 82 percent for math, 81 percent for science and 80 percent for history.
There were few variations by gender among Arlington students in the math, science and history tests. Girls scored significantly better (90-percent pass rate compared to 83 percent) than boys in writing, and had an 85 percent pass rate compared to 81 percent for boys in reading.
In most tests, Arlington students describing themselves as Asian, white and biracial/multracial scored better than those describing themselves as black or Latino.
(Some of the disparity is due to the not-unexpected lower performance of immigrant students who have not yet mastered English but still are required to take a range of SOL tests.)
Statewide, the 2018-19 school year saw the introduction of new math SOL tests, reflecting revisions to mathematics standards approved by the state Board of Education in 2016. Also new for 2018-19, high-school students were required to take fewer SOL tests if they met other testing requirements in the subject areas.
“These changes were significant, and performance on last year’s SOL tests marks the beginning of new trend lines in mathematics, science and history,” said state Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane.
Full data – at the statewide, countywide and individual-school level – can be found at http://schoolquality.virginia.gov/.