Most Virginia news media duly reported the release of the latest Standards of Learning (SOL) data showing the biggest collapse in pass rates in the history of the SOLs. Most accepted the Northam administration’s spin that the decline was due mainly to COVID-19-related disruptions, and that Virginians should not read too much into the results. Then the media dropped the story. K-12 news coverage moved on to other topics such as the shortage of teachers and bus drivers. (The Washington Post did not deem the SOL story worthy of coverage of any kind.)
You’d think that a collapse of the magnitude seen in the 2020-21 school year — 46% of all students failed to pass their math SOLs — would generate greater interest. You’d think widening racial gap in educational achievement – 66% of Black students failed their math exams – would prompt more scrutiny. Perhaps if the governor were a Republican, the media would be more interested in exploring the story.
Whatever the reasons for the media’s lack of interest in the most important K-12 education story of the year, Bacon’s Rebellion is prepared to step in.
Every school district faced the COVID-19 pandemic. Every school district had to make tough choices based on imperfect and evolving information about whether to continue in-person classes, shift to remote learning, or cobble together a hybrid of the two. But in some districts, the decline in SOL performance was far worse than in others. For an analysis of the possible reasons why, please click “Read now.” Hint: In-person instruction matters.