The excuse we often hear for Richmond’s poor performance on the SOL tests is poverty.
VDOE has data on that. They define a student as “economically disadvantaged” if that student “1) is eligible for Free/Reduced Meals, or 2) receives TANF, or 3) is eligible for Medicaid, or 4) [is] identified as either Migrant or experiencing Homelessness.” Data are here.
Juxtaposing the 2015 Division pass rates with the ED percentage of the enrollment, we see the following for the reading tests:
With an R2 of 0.5, it appears that ED is a reasonably good predictor of Division reading pass rates.
Richmond is the gold square on the graph. The red diamonds are the comparable old, urban jurisdictions: From the left, Hampton, Newport News, and Norfolk. The yellow points are the outstanding performers: From the left, West Point, Wise, Norton, and Highland. Notice that Norton and Highland are outperforming about as much as Richmond is underperforming, with about the same level of poverty.
Turning to the math tests, the correlation drops but the pattern is much the same:
Richmond again is the gold square; the red points again are Hampton, Newport News, and Norfolk. Norton drops out of the yellow outperforming group, leaving West Point, Wise, and Highland.
Looks to me like Richmond needs a better excuse than poverty.