The Free-Fall in Varina High School SOL Scores

Varina High School is a predominantly black (68%) high school in eastern Henrico County with a significant white minority (27%, mostly working class), and a smatter of Hispanics, biracial students, and others. As part of the Henrico County school district, Varina is one of the high schools subjected to a therapeutic disciplinary regime imposed by the Obama administration in order to reduce the number of students punished for disciplinary infractions on the grounds that the old methods disproportionately impacted African-Americans. I focus on this school because a source tells me that discipline, never great, is deteriorating — an assistant principal was assaulted by a student in the last school year —  teacher morale is terrible, and teacher turnover is high. The school appears to be a perfect example of what happens when social justice warriors impose “reforms” heedless of unintended consequences.

I have long maintained that the new, politically correct disciplinary regime, far from advancing racial justice, does grave damage to blacks. When teachers are unable to maintain order in classrooms, they cannot teach. Further, they get discouraged, and quit or transfer to other schools. Thus, predominantly black schools are staffed by less experienced teachers. I have predicted that as the new disciplinary regime took hold, academic achievement would suffer.

In the previous post, I noted that SOL test scores for blacks and Hispanics have deteriorated statewide in the past two years, which I tentatively suggested might reflect increased classroom disruption at schools in districts where the policies took hold. But I was reluctant to draw hard-and-fast conclusions on the basis of statewide data. We needed to drill down to a school-by-school level.

To get a sense of whether my hypothesis held up or not, I drilled down to Varina High School, which may or may not be typical of all high schools subject to the social-justice-warrior disciplinary regime. The results are startling. While average SOL pass rates have eroded statewide over the past two years, they have plummeted at Varina. As can be seen in the table atop this post, pass rates have deteriorated in subjects across the board.

As can be seen in the table below, the decline has been especially marked among blacks. To be sure, whites have suffered from the breakdown in discipline, displaying a greater cumulative deterioration in SOL pass rates than whites statewide. But the collapse in SOL pass rates among blacks has been disastrous.

Varina seems to be a perfect confirmation of the Bacon hypothesis. I don’t want to make too much of this one example. Conceivably, other factors could account for this skewed performance, although I can’t think of any off-hand. However, the results at Varina are so shocking that it would be reckless to refuse to consider the possibility that the same thing is happening elsewhere.

Someone — preferably VDOE — needs to conduct a systematic review that compares school districts and individual schools subjected to SJW disciplinary systems and those that have not been, paying special attention to high schools and junior high schools, where discipline is a more pressing issue than in elementary schools, as well as to schools dominated by economically disadvantaged and/or African-American students where the new rules likely have had the greatest impact on discipline and classroom disruption.

If you want examples of institutional racism, this is a good place to look — blacks as victims of social justice warriors’ half-baked theories and unintended consequences. Of course, being an SJW means never having to say you’re sorry. Ignore the wreckage, blame racism, and move on to the next cause.

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10 responses to “The Free-Fall in Varina High School SOL Scores

  1. re: ” The school appears to be a perfect example of what happens when social justice warriors impose “reforms” heedless of unintended consequences.”

    bullfeathers..

    if you could show a comparison between schools (0r same school with older data) and one had strict discipline and higher rates of expulsions – and a concomitant increase in SOL scores – it might be persuasive but claiming blacks hurt blacks is racism… it is… on both sides of it.. not just one side.

    My advice – get the race out of it and concentrate on SOLs and discipline metrics and stop attributing it to race at all…

    • My advice – get the race out of it and concentrate on SOLs and discipline metrics and stop attributing it to race at all…

      Larry, you can’t get race out of it. The Obama administration and ACLU made it all about race. If the old disciplinary system didn’t have a disparate impact on race, it never would have been an issue. But the ACLU saw that disparate impact — a higher rate of punishment for African-Americans than for other races — as evidence of racial discrimination. The only way to fight that mentality is to show the disparate impact of the policies they foisted into place.

      • re: ” If the old disciplinary system didn’t have a disparate impact on race, it never would have been an issue. But the ACLU saw that disparate impact — a higher rate of punishment for African-Americans than for other races ”

        So.. you are going to PROVE … that such discrimination actually IS about race and it is JUSTIFIED as a better response that not having it?

        you mean just like the ACLU and others have pointed out the racial disparities in our criminal justice system and have pushed for reforms – those reforms essentially prove that race-based policy “works” better than policies that are not race-based?

        And you just consider the ACLU to be one of Obama’s staff agencies?

        where do you get this mindset from?

        “social justice warriors”? a pejorative that means what? Any organization that seeks to reform current practices that seem to be discriminatory – and they all are “Obama”?

        Jesus H. Keeeerist… when you drink the koolaid man – it’s a mega-slurp served up by the likes of FOX and company…

        This is racism guy… it’s justifying race-based discrimination… and now we’re using it to essentially claim that it causes blacks to underperform in school – even in schools across the state where there are no discipline problems… i.e . A 10% statewide difference between white and black performance.. it’s all because we don’t properly discipline unruly black kids?

        Lord.

  2. The problem with your thesis is you are assuming that discipline and the learning environment is demonstrably worse than it was before DOJ stepped in. Is it? You have one unnamed source, but there should be hard data somewhere. You jump to some pretty big conclusions (and perhaps the data reflects that more students who might have been suspended in the past are still around and taking the tests, substantially changing the base.) You might be right but you haven’t proven it.

    • That’s right — I haven’t proven it. That’s why I couched my concerns as a hypothesis that need to be verified by a more comprehensive investigation. I do think that the data I’ve presented warrants a closer look.

    • If you REALLY – WANTED to actually prove it – you’d take ALL schools in Va that dropped in scores and then you’d check the correlation with discipline issues NOW and BEFORE …

      THEN – you’d break it down by race… at those schools and see if the premise held.

      You don’t do it the other way by finding one school and then building some broad-based premise that applies to race across the board … that’s just BAD science and really, really bad thinking.. you can’t just slice and dice data any old way you want to create things that simply have no basis in fact.

      • If you REALLY – WANTED to actually prove it – you’d take ALL schools in Va that dropped in scores and then you’d check the correlation with discipline issues NOW and BEFORE …

        Larry, try reading the whole piece before going into knee-jerk mode. I made it abundantly clear that I am formulating a hypothesis that needs to be confirmed by a comprehensive review of the data. Here’s what I wrote:

        “I don’t want to make too much of this one example. Conceivably, other factors could account for this skewed performance. …

        “Someone — preferably VDOE — needs to conduct a systematic review that compares school districts and individual schools subjected to SJW disciplinary systems and those that have not been, paying special attention to high schools and junior high schools, where discipline is a more pressing issue than in elementary schools, as well as to schools dominated by economically disadvantaged and/or African-American students where the new rules likely have had the greatest impact on discipline and classroom disruption.”

        I wish I had the time to undertake that task all by myself. But I don’t.

  3. The problem with Jim’s “thesis” is that it’s totally race based when there is no proof at all. You can go through the rest of the SOL data and find many, many schools that dropped 10 points and yet – a fair and rational person would NEVER attribute it to race or even “social warrior” discipline changes.. but a wrongheaded person would select ONE of those schools to then make that illicit case…

    it’s the epitome of BAD math and BAD science rolled into a racial meme that we now see so often on the right these days.

    • Larry, you’re so accustomed to thinking of yourself as one of the good guys that you’re having trouble accepting the idea that the liberal policy nostrums you defend have, counter to your best of intentions, been horribly destructive to blacks. But rather than admit the truth, you and your ideological compadres have doubled down on the racism meme. So, when I dare to analyze the issues differently, you have seen fit to call me (or my ideas) racist — “This is racism guy… it’s justifying race-based discrimination… ”

      You are speaking from a position of white liberal privilege, oblivious to the “disparate impact” of the polices you favor, which, by white liberal logic, makes you the racist, my friend.

    • JB the SJW!

      We keep returning to the question whether race can be cited as the cause of racial differences. Duh! I’d like to join Larry in a world where racial differences in educational statistics are no longer meaningful — but that world does not exist, at least in Virginia. I’d prefer to avoid hypotheses that cultural differences between the races require different responses by educators — but the facts here are disturbing enough that all hypotheses ought to be on the table. It’s not enough to attack one of those hypotheses simply because it’s based on fact-finding from “one school and then building some broad-based premise that applies to race across the board.” Local government is confronted with all sorts of problems that are sui generis, examples of one — are we going to ignore these problems simply because we don’t have “proof” of a broader, generic cause? And where race clearly correlates with the problem, is it helpful to call it “just BAD science and really, really bad thinking” simply because someone proposes that the cure might correlate with race also?

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