Some Northern Virginia Schools Get Failing Grades on Black Student Literacy and Numeracy

Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane

by James C. Sherlock

We spend a lot of time here documenting the raging debates at Northern Virginia school board meetings over Critical Race Theory in schools. Raging is the right word.  

Yet those same school systems fail to educate the kids they claim to care about most.

Consider what we see from VDOE and them instead:

  • the teacher strike threats;
  • the elimination of competitive tests for magnet schools and AP courses;
  • the ongoing attempt to recall Loudoun school board members;
  • the lawsuits;
  • the “too many Asians” idiocy of the Secretary of Education and the new rules that will push most high achieving Asian American students out of the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in the name of “equity”;
  • the Virginia Board of Education taking over as the regulator for child care, writing a 24-page draft regulation on transgender students and working every day to write regulations to create little social activists starting at birth.

It is past time for Northern Virginia school systems and VDOE to get to work doing something a little more basic.  

I have a thought. Start by teaching the far too many Black students who, pre-COVID, had failed to achieve literacy and numeracy at or even near grade level.  

Hope I’m not out of line.

I wrote a three-part series here documenting the abject failure of Richmond Public Schools to educate its Black children. That school system is in a state of collapse all its own.  

But Northern Virginia school boards need to take a break from competitive wokeness and spend some time and resources doing their actual jobs to educate children, in this case Black children. You know, those kids in whose names the rest of the nonsense is being done by adults whether it will help them or not.

To assist the adults with that process, I have compiled: 

  • statewide math and reading passing rates for Black, non-Hispanic children on the last SOL’s (2018-2019) prior to COVID; and 
  • the passing rates for Black, non-Hispanic children in individual schools in selected Northern Virginia districts on those same tests.

I will list below the number of schools in each district whose Black students fell below statewide averages for Black student reading and math pass rates. I will name the worst of those in Loudoun County only to give them something new to discuss at those world-famous school board meetings.

For each school system reviewed, I will link to a tailored spread sheet showing the schools in each district that had Black student pass rates below statewide Black student pass rates. In each I have hidden the rows with above average pass rates. Readers can unhide the rows to see all schools if they wish.

Remember, these average pass rates show the Black student rates of literacy and numeracy before COVID, and do not factor in two years of subsequent learning losses.

Statewide Averages for Black (non-Hispanic) SOL pass rates 2018-19

Reading — 64.97

Math — 70.15

Northern Virginia School District results

I list the number of schools in each district with Black student SOL pass rates in math or reading or both below statewide Black student averages.

Loudoun County 

Twenty eight schools. The worst of those were:

  • Dominion Trail Elementary — 49% pass rate in reading; 61.54 in math
  • Loudoun Valley High — 50% pass rate in reading; 57.14% in math
  • Meadowland Elementary — 50% pass rate in math
  • Rolling Ridge elementary — 50% pass rate in reading
  • Sycolin Creek Elementary — 50% pass rate in reading; 66.67% in math
  • Leesburg Elementary- – 52.38% pass rate in reading; 57.14% in math
  • Dominion High — 53.33% pass rate in math
  • Sterling Middle — 53.7% pass rate in both reading and math
  • Creighton’s Corner Elementary — 53.85% pass rate in math; 61.54% in reading
  • Belmont Station Elementary — 57.14 pass rate in math
  • Smart’s Mill Middle — 57.65 pass rate in math
  • Potomac Falls High- – 59.15% pass rate in math
  • Blue Ridge Middle- – 60% pass rate in reading; 63.33% in math
  • Park View High — 60% pass rate in math
  • Potowmack Elementary – -60% pass rate in reading; 60% in math

Fairfax County – the home of the teacher strike threat

Fifty six schools. 56! A little work to do there before the strike.

Arlington County

Five schools


Ten schools

Falls Church

One school

My intention here is to embarrass self-congratulatory, self-indulgent school boards and teachers unions into doing the work they are elected and paid to do. They must teach the Black children in their care how to read and the art of mathematics.  

The schools must fulfill the existing social contract with parents and the rest of society to teach the basic skills of traditional education.

Then they can ask our permission to expand or change that contract.

Right now they are doing neither.