The Standards of Learning results from last school year indicate substantial learning loss for Loudoun County students, who spent the past year and a half in distance and hybrid learning environments.
Reading scores in the district for all students indicated a 79% pass rate, down from an 84% pass rate in 2019, the last time the tests were administered. Math scores in the district saw a more significant drop-off, with only 64% of test takers passing, compared to 2019’s 87% pass-rate.
Parents have the option to opt out of their children taking the SOL’s. The test was not administered during the 2019-2020 school year because of the pandemic. According to the state’s Department of Education, typically 99% of students participate in the testing. Last year, though, only 75.5% of students took the reading assessment, 78.7% took math, and 80% took science.
The categories that saw the largest increase in failure rates were math scores among economically disadvantaged students and among Hispanic students, with failure rates nearly doubling since the 2018-2019 testing.
Compared to students in other districts across the commonwealth, Loudoun’s learners fared relatively well. Statewide, 69% of test takers passed the reading exams, 54% passed mathematics and 59% passed science.
“Virginia’s 2020-2021 SOL test scores tell us what we already knew: students need to be in the classroom without disruption to learn effectively,” Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane said in a statement. “We must now focus on unfinished learning and acceleration to mitigate the impact the pandemic has had on student results.”
The state department of education attributes the lower pass rates in part to few students retaking the tests. Typically, students who fail by a small margin are permitted to retake their tests.
At the district level, the scoring is used as a barometer for teachers to understand what their students know as they begin a new school year—and where there are areas of weaknesses. Loudoun County also uses data from its own Measures of Academic Progress testing, which is conducted three times a year. This year’s MAP testing will begin as soon as next week for some students.
State officials will use the data to inform initiatives and direct funds to programs that will help students make up lost ground, such as funding increased in-person and small-group instruction.