Tuesday, April 16, 2024

What Virginia School Divisions Plan to do to Combat Learning Loss

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

RICHMOND — All 131 Virginia school divisions have submitted their plans to address the significant learning loss seen among students in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plans, published on the Virginia Department of Education website, offer a roadmap for how divisions intend to carry out Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s “ALL IN VA” plan announced this September to combat learning loss through “high intensity tutoring, literacy education and measures to promote school attendance.”

To help further those efforts, the General Assembly this fall allocated $418 million in “flexible” direct aid to divisions.

“I’m pleased all of Virginia’s school divisions have heeded my call to urgently and aggressively take action to help our students recover from the covid pandemic learning loss,” said Youngkin in a statement Monday, adding that he’s pleased “every school division has embraced that challenge and are committed to getting our students back on track academically.”

In the years following the pandemic, Virginia has seen sharp declines in students’ performance on the state’s Standards of Learning tests. The most recent pass rates, for the 2022-23 SOLs, showed little progress compared to the prior year, with numbers remaining below pre-pandemic levels.

In 2022-23, roughly 69% of Virginia students passed the mathematics test compared to 82% before the pandemic. On reading tests, 73% of students overall passed compared to 78% before the pandemic, and writing rates continued to fall, dropping by 4% for a second straight year.

Student absences have also remained high: Last school year, the number of chronically absent students doubled compared to 2018-19 numbers, according to the Department of Education.

Divisions have presented a range of options to address these challenges. Accomack is planning a Saturday Success Academy and will pay 34 teachers to offer after-school tutoring. Giles County will tap into teachers and teacher assistants for tutoring. Albemarle will supplement its in-person tutors with virtual tutors to serve students in some rural areas.

To see all of the divisions’ plans, click here.

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