RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Scores from the 2022-23 Standards of Learning tests, or SOLs, were largely unchanged from last school year but are still below Virginia’s pre-pandemic pass rates.

Virginia’s SOLs, given to students in the spring of each school year, measure how students meet the Board of Education’s learning and achievement expectations in various subjects, including reading, mathematics, science, writing and history.

The new SOL test scores show no improvement overall in statewide reading and writing pass rates from last year, a 3% bump in math, and a 2% increase in science. There was a 1% drop in the students who passed the history SOL test this year.

The latest scores also show that reading and math pass rates for elementary and middle school students are below the levels in 2018-19, the last pre-pandemic testing school year.   

“More than half of 3rd-8th graders either failed or are at risk of failing their reading SOL exam, and nearly two-thirds of 3rd-8th graders either failed, or are at risk of failing, their math SOL exam,” the Virginia Department of Education said in a statement announcing the test results.

Virginia’s education department pointed to students struggling with “significant and persistent learning loss,” especially in math and reading, with the Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Coons stressing the importance of school attendance.

The number of chronically absent students (ones who missed more than 18 days in a school year) doubled in Virginia from 2018-19 to 2022-2023, according to the state’s Department of Education.

Students in grades 3 through 8 who were chronically absent scored 18% lower in reading, and 25% lower in math than those who attended school regularly, the education department said.

The students in those grades who missed 36 or more days scored 31% lower in reading and 43% lower in math than those who attended school regularly.

How Richmond area school districts did on the SOLs

Like the state’s averages, Chesterfield County Public Schools saw no change in the percentage of students who passed the reading and writing SOLs from last year. The county’s school division had a 3% increase in math SOL pass rates, and a 1% bump in science and remained even in history.

In Henrico, the county’s school district saw SOL pass rate improvements in writing, math and science from the last school year. But Henrico schools had a 1% decline in reading and an 8% fall in history SOL pass rates from 2022-23 to 2021-22.

Richmond City Public Schools saw increases in writing (3%), math (7%), science (3%) and history (5%) SOL pass rates, but its averages were all below the state’s averages. The district’s reading SOL pass rate remained the same at 47%.

Petersburg City Public Schools saw big jumps from last year in its SOL pass rates for math – from 31% to 37% — and history – from 25% to 37%. The district’s pass rate for reading SOLs fell from 46% last school year to 45% in 2022-23, and its writing pass rate dropped from 34% to 29%.  

Hanover County Public Schools had SOL pass rates in reading (80%), writing (66%), math (83%), science (77%) and history (78%) all higher than the state’s averages for the 2022-23 year. The county’s school division saw improvements in each subject’s pass rate from last year except for a 1% decrease in both history and reading.