RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Low Standards of Learning (SOL) test scores across Richmond Public Schools are prompting board members to hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 23.

Richmond school board members are planning to discuss personnel, teachers’ concerns and some policy changes at the emergency meeting, according to school board member Jonathan Young.

Recently released SOL scores show Richmond Schools are falling behind the state’s average again.

SOLs measure the success of Virginia public school students in subjects like reading, math and science.
Ahead of Tuesday night’s emergency meeting, Young is speaking out.

“We are in a moment of crisis,” he said.

Mayor Levar Stoney addressed rumors about the meeting on Monday morning. He tweeted, “No one should be surprised that prolonged virtual learning and the trauma of the pandemic would negatively impact academic outcomes.”

He also said the school division’s low scores are “alarming but they were both predictable and predicted.”

Stoney added that Superintendent Jason Kamras proposed a year-round academic calendar to school board members, but they dismissed it.

Stoney tweeted, “There’s no cause for an emergency meeting in the first place and firing superintendent Kamras less than a week before the start of the academic year would be catastrophic for our kids and this community.”

8News has not received confirmation from school board members regarding which personnel matters will be discussed at Tuesday night’s meeting.

The SOL results show Richmond schools’ biggest and most persistent pattern of learning loss was in science, writing and history. However, the school system held steady in reading and in math.

There were concerns that no 7th graders passed the math SOL after the Virginia Department of Education reported the pass rate for 7th grade math was 0%.

Richmond schools confirmed to 8News that most 7th graders took the 8th-grade math SOL.

RPS said Monday that “108 seventh graders took the 7th-grade math SOL test this spring. The pass rate is 0%.”

However, 1,085 seventh graders took the 8th-grade math SOL this spring. 17% of 7th graders passed that test.

RPS explained the reason for some 6th and 7th graders testing above their grade level.

The district said 6th graders learn a combination of 6th- and 7th-grade math during the school year, so 7th graders could take 8th-grade pre-algebra. By doing this, those students will be able to take Algebra 1 in 8th grade, so that they can be eligible to apply for governor’s ad specialty schools.

Young said school board members will talk about personnel and how to improve SOL test scores at the emergency meeting on Tuesday.

“We are going to adopt significant, substantive policy changes that will provide immediate relief to our teachers,” he said.

Young added that members will hopefully address teachers’ concerns at tomorrow’s meeting. “It’s time to listen to our teachers, give them the resources and more specifically get the heck out of their way,” he said.

Dr. Shonda Harris-Muhammed, the school board’s chair, told 8News in a written statement that members are ready to have an honest and uncomfortable conversation about the lack of positive student trajectory in the district.

“Student outcomes and student achievement are directly correlated to adult behaviors. The courageous and uncomfortable robust discussions begin now,” she said in the statement. “I am here to support each of them and the entire school board. This will not feel good for anyone on the governance team.”

The emergency Tuesday meeting at John Marshall High School will begin at 6:30 p.m.