It is well known that Standards of Learning (SOL) pass rates at Virginia schools are significantly higher in affluent school districts than in poorer inner-city or rural school districts. The point comes through clearly in the map above, created by Hamilton Lombard on the StatChat blog. (Click through to StatChat to play with an interactive map that can zoom in on specific geographic areas.)
But socio-economic status is not destiny. As Lombard notes: “Southwest Virginia, in particular, has a large number of schools with high SOL pass rates, despite also having some of the highest child poverty rates in the state.”
The Roanoke region, I would add, also performs well by this measure.
I wonder if the same pattern applies to higher-performing students, as measured by the percentage of students who score “proficient” in their SOL tests. It is theoretically possible that western Virginia schools and student bodies are good at attaining basic standards but are less less likely to achieve advanced levels of performance. If western Virginia schools match affluent Golden Crescent suburban kids in the rate of achieving SOL proficiency, then something really remarkable is happening.
I will urge Hamilton to map the distribution of “proficient” students to see what that tells us.
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