VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — After the state's most recent Standards of Learning results for the 2021-22 academic year, it's unclear when learning levels will return to what educators like Dr. Aaron Spence saw before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There was no question students fell behind in their learning. Our jobs this year was to work to accelerate that and rebound," said Dr. Spence, the superintendent of Virginia Beach City Public Schools.
According to the most recently released SOL results, the percentage of students passing standardized tests across the state is still below pandemic levels.
In 2018-19, these were the following pass rate percentages across three major school subjects:
- English: 73%
- Math: 82%
- Science: 81%
Those pass rates dropped by nine, 28 and 22 percentage points, respectively, in the 2020-21 school year. In the 2021-22 school year, those categories saw relative increases of four, 12 and six percentage points, respectively.
However, those pass rates still come in below pre-pandemic levels.
Dr. Spence said that the changed learning environments still take a toll on both students and staff.
“Because kids were virtual, it’s difficult to teach kids in that environment for some students. So, some are further behind than they normally would be, so our teachers have more work to do to catch them up, plus move forward in the curriculum," Dr. Spence said.
Despite those challenges, standardized test scores in Virginia Beach indicate students there may be closer to their pre-pandemic levels of passing as a whole.
Here are the following pass rates for the major school subjects for 2018-19 in Virginia Beach:
- English: 85%
- Math: 88%
- Science: 85%
Following state trends, the division saw a bump in passing rates from 2020-21 to 2021-22. Across English, Math and Science SOL's, the pass rates across the division are now three, 16 and 10 percentage points under pre-pandemic levels.
The SOL scores are all above state average, and scored at or above the other Hampton Roads municipalities.
Dr. Spence added that with so many more students returning to class in more traditional settings like before, he's hopeful these state and local trends will continue to improve.
“Feels like the clouds are parting, kind of like COVID-19 is not hanging over us as much as much as it has been. Less questions about masks and the yelling and screaming about those issues have quieted down.”