SOL test scores show improvement, racial and economic disparities

WASHINGTON — More students passed Virginia standardized tests this year than last in most, but not all, Northern Virginia school systems.

Statewide, the 2015-16 Standards of Learning test results released this week show slight increases in overall pass rates on reading, math and science tests, while pass rates in other categories remained flat.

The small Falls Church City school system is at or near the top of the list for SOL pass rates in each of the broad categories, although, like last year, the tiny West Point school system outside of Richmond leads the way in many cases.

Both school systems serve well-educated and relatively wealthy communities, especially compared with school systems at the bottom of the pass-rate list in many categories, such as Richmond and Petersburg.

Northern Virginia school systems spanned from near the top to near the bottom of statewide lists:


English: Reading

Falls Church leads Northern Virginia school systems with a 92 percent pass rate on reading SOLs, 2 percentage points behind statewide leader West Point.

Of the 133 full school divisions in the commonwealth, Richmond and Petersburg have the lowest pass rates at 60 percent, a slight improvement over last year.

On all exams, achievement gaps continue that the data show can be tied to race or class.

Arlington and Loudoun counties tied for the highest pass rates in Northern Virginia for “economically disadvantaged” students. The 71 percent pass rates were up slightly from last year.

In the region, Falls Church (64 percent), Alexandria and Manassas Park (63 percent), Fredericksburg and Fauquier County (62 percent) and Winchester (61 percent) had the lowest pass rates for economically disadvantaged students.

All Students, English: Reading Scores
2016 State Rank/School System 2013-14 Pass Rate 2014-15 Pass Rate 2015-16 Pass Rate
#2 Falls Church City 91 92 92
T-5 Loudoun County 84 87 88
T-7 Arlington County 82 86 87
T-15 Fairfax County 81 85 85
T-28 Stafford County 78 83 82
T-43 Fauquier County 76 80 80
T-43 Orange County 74 80 80
T-43 Prince William County 77 81 80
T-51 Spotsylvania County 74 78 79
T-60 Culpeper County 74 76 78
T-96 Alexandria City 66 71 73
T-96 Fredericksburg City 69 76 73
T-96 Manassas City 66 72 73
T-96 Winchester City 70 72 73
T-106 Manassas Park City 65 71 71

English: Writing

On writing tests, Falls Church and West Point tied for the top pass rates statewide, with Loudoun, Fairfax and Arlington counties close behind.

Richmond City (45 percent, down from 48 percent last year and 56 percent in 2014) and Petersburg (47 percent, down from 49 percent last year and 52 percent in 2014) are at the bottom of the 132 regular school divisions.

In Northern Virginia, the racial divides in pass rates on this test can be stark.

White students in Falls Church (94 percent pass rate), Fairfax (93 percent), Alexandria (92 percent), Loudoun (91 percent), Prince William (87 percent), Manassas Park (85 percent), Stafford (85 percent), and Fredericksburg (84 percent) passed at higher rates than their peers.

In Fredericksburg, the pass rate for black students was just 56 percent; for Hispanic students, 64 percent, both down over the last two years.

Manassas Park had the highest pass rate in Northern Virginia for black students at 74 percent. That is the eighth-highest in Virginia among jurisdictions with large enough sample sizes.

Fairfax County and Falls Church were close behind with 73 percent pass rates, followed by Loudoun, Prince William and Stafford Counties at 72 percent.

Hispanic students in Manassas Park and Spotsylvania County had a 71 percent pass rate, while Hispanic students in Fairfax and Prince William counties had a 70 percent pass rate.

In Alexandria, Hispanic students had a 55 percent pass rate.

Lee County, in Southwest Virginia, had the lowest writing pass rate for white students of any school division at 61 percent. Page County, in the Interstate 81 corridor, had the second-lowest pass rate for white students at 64 percent.

All Students, English: Writing Scores
State Rank/School System 2013-14 Pass Rate 2014-15 Pass Rate 2015-16 Pass Rate
T-1 Falls Church City 91 93 91
#4 Loudoun County 87 87 87
T-5 Fairfax County 84 85 86
T-8 Arlington County 84 85 85
T-15 Fauquier County 78 82 82
T-22 Stafford County 77 81 81
T-36 Prince William County 78 80 78
T-46 Manassas Park City 71 78 76
T-46 Spotsylvania County 74 78 76
T-46 Winchester City 75 73 76
T-63 Orange County 70 78 74
T-75 Culpeper County 70 73 73
T-79 Manassas City 70 72 72
T-97 Alexandria City 71 70 69
T-102 Fredericksburg City 75 75 68


History and Social Sciences

On history and social sciences tests, Falls Church tied for the highest pass rates in the commonwealth with West Point and Poquoson City, near Newport News.

Petersburg and Richmond had the lowest pass rates in the state at 66 percent and 67 percent. Lancaster County, on the Northern Neck, is the only other school division with a pass rate lower than 70 percent in history and social sciences.

All Students, History and Social Sciences Scores
State Rank/School System 2013-14 Pass Rate 2014-15 Pass Rate 2015-16 Pass Rate
T-1 Falls Church City 93 96 95
T-6 Loudoun County 91 92 92
T-10 Fairfax County 90 90 90
T-20 Stafford County 87 89 89
T-30 Arlington County 88 88 88
T-30 Orange County 86 85 88
T-40 Fauquier County 86 87 87
T-40 Prince William County 86 88 87
T-49 Culpeper County 82 84 86
T-70 Spotsylvania County 82 85 84
T-79 Winchester City 81 85 83
T-85 Manassas Park City 81 79 82
T-96 Fredericksburg City 80 80 81
T-105 Manassas City 77 80 80
T-118 Alexandria City 76 77 77



In math, West Point (93 percent) and Wise County, in Southwest Virginia (92 percent), had the highest pass rates statewide.

Falls Church had the highest pass rates in Northern Virginia, followed closely by Arlington and Loudoun counties.

Lancaster County (57 percent, down from 67 percent last year and 60 percent two years ago) had the lowest overall pass rate statewide, just lower than Richmond (58 percent).

Math tests for most third graders and middle schoolers were different this year than in the past, since the tests changed based on the answers students got correct or missed. A correct answer led to more challenging questions, while incorrect answers led to less challenging questions. Scores were based on the number of answers correct overall and the degree of difficulty of the questions a student saw.

More math and reading tests for students in grades 3-8 will likely be taken in a similar way by the 2017-18 school year.

Arlington had one of the highest math pass rates for students with disabilities last school year (62 percent, seventh-highest statewide), followed by Falls Church (60 percent/10th), Loudoun (59 percent/11th), Fairfax County and Stafford County (both at 56 percent/T-16th).

Fredericksburg had the lowest Northern Virginia math pass rates for students with disabilities at 26 percent, fifth from the bottom. Alexandria, at 34 percent, was just slightly ahead.

While the pass rates are compared with previous years, they measure a different group of students in each grade level, so the numbers can fluctuate.

All Students, Math Scores
State Rank/School System 2013-14 Pass Rate 2014-15 Pass Rate 2015-16 Pass Rate
T-7 Falls Church City 90 90 88
T-10 Arlington County 83 87 87
T-14 Loudoun County 81 85 86
T-33 Culpeper County 75 82 83
T-33 Fairfax County 81 83 83
T-33 Stafford County 80 84 83
T-56 Fauquier County 74 80 80
T-56 Orange County 72 76 80
T-56 Spotsylvania County 73 80 80
T-63 Prince William County 77 80 79
T-70 Manassas City 71 78 78
T-80 Manassas Park City 72 76 77
T-89 Winchester City 73 74 76
T-102 Fredericksburg City 72 75 74
T-119 Alexandria City 64 69 68



On science tests, West Point leads the way with a 96 percent pass rate, followed by a tie between Falls Church and Poquoson City.

At the bottom are Martinsville (60 percent), Richmond (64 percent) and Petersburg (65 percent). Alexandria is tied for seventh from the bottom of 132 full school divisions in pass rates for all students.

In Fairfax County, just 67 percent of “economically disadvantaged” students passed science tests; that number was 63 percent in Manassas and 62 percent in Fredericksburg.

In Fairfax County, the pass rate for those students is a slight increase over the 65 percent pass rate last year and the 64 percent pass rate for 2014.

All Students, Science Scores
State Rank/School System 2013-14 Pass Rate 2014-15 Pass Rate 2015-16 Pass Rate
#2 Falls Church City 91 90 92
T-9 Loudoun County 88 89 89
T-22 Fauquier County 83 86 87
T-33 Fairfax County 84 84 86
T-33 Stafford County 84 87 86
T-33 Arlington County 84 85 86
T-51 Culpeper County 76 80 84
T-59 Orange County 79 83 83
T-67 Prince William County 81 82 82
T-67 Spotsylvania County 79 82 82
T-101 Manassas Park City 66 68 77
T-101 Winchester City 74 72 77
T-114 Fredericksburg City 75 77 74
T-117 Manassas City 74 74 73
T-125 Alexandria City 66 68 69

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