Further “Progress Report” on Petersburg

Despite ongoing “supervision” by the Board of Education since at least 2004,
the SOL pass rates in Petersburg are declining vs. the state average.

The Board of Education has been actively “supervising” the Petersburg public schools since at least 2004.


(“MOU” is bureaucratese for “Memorandum of Understanding”).

Despite all that “supervision,” the Petersburg schools are marinating in failure.

Let’s analyze that situation in further detail.

Statewide, economically disadvantaged (“ED”) students pass the SOLs at about 20% lower rates than their more affluent peers (“Not ED”). This makes the SOL average an unfair measure for divisions, such as Petersburg (and Richmond) that have large ED populations. So let’s look at the ED and Not ED pass rates, not the average SOL.

We have seen, for instance, the reading data for Petersburg and the state for 2014 to 2019:


It is perhaps more illuminating to take the state averages as benchmarks and look at the Petersburg differences.


Three things are apparent in these data:

  1. The overall pattern is decline.
  2. Petersburg’s ED students passed the reading tests at rates ranging from eleven to fifteen points lower than their peers, statewide. Petersburg’s Not ED students did much worse. There is no way to tell on these data whether this Not ED underperformance reflects the schools or the particular student mix in Petersburg.
  3. All these numbers would be disastrously bad, even without the decline.

The writing data paint a similar picture, but with even larger deficits for both groups.


History and Social Science: Another pattern of decline from bad to terrible.


Ditto, math:


Finally, science:


There’s no sign that anybody at the Board or Department of Education has been held accountable for this miserable failure.

That “Memorandum of Understanding” is mislabeled. It should be titled “Suicide Pact.”