Richmond SOL vs. Poverty by Grade

We have seen that Richmond’s SOL scores mostly dropped this year and that neither expenditure nor the population of economically disadvantaged students explains Richmond’s worst- or close to worst in the state performance.

To get a more detailed look at the matter, let’s take a look at SOL pass rates by economic disadvantage and grade. 

Here, to start, are Richmond’s and the state’s average pass rates in the reading subject area, broken out by grade for the ED and not ED populations.  (“EOC” is the end of course tests, required to obtain “verified” credits toward graduation.)


Hmmm.  ED students are scoring below their non-ED peers at both the state and Richmond levels.  Let’s examine the gaps by subtracting the Richmond pass rates from the state values for each group.


Two things jump out here:

First, Richmond’s awful middle schools somehow take kids who are performing within sight of the state average and drop their performance off a cliff.

Second, both the ED and non-ED populations underperform the state averages for their groups and grades by about the same amount.  Said otherwise, Richmond’s schools are underperforming at about the same level for both the ED and non-ED populations.

Next the math subject area.



Note the different scale here: As to middle school reading, both groups were 16 to 25 points behind their peers statewide; for math that range is 23 to 43%. 

And we see our middle schools again doing a terrible job for our ED students but an even worse job for the non-ED population.

Finally, the five subject average.  (“CST” = Content Specific Test, used for elementary and middle school history tests.)



This paints a picture similar to the reading results: Low performance in elementary schools; awful performance in middle schools; ca. 10% underperformance on the EOC tests;  Richmond ED and non-ED students underperforming the statewide averages for their groups by about the same amount.

This more finely grained view provides some interesting details but does not change the basic result: Economic disadvantage is a problem but it’s not the problem with our schools.  That problem is lousy schools (especially the middle schools).