Virtual learning: a downgrade to students’ testing scores


Eva Sonis

Mackenzie Gonzales, a seventh-grader on the TrailBlazers team, struggles to answer a question on the SOLS.

“I didn’t do sixth grade, I slept through sixth grade,” said Divitha Mathe, an eighth-grader on the Wolves team.

Divi said people put in less effort during online school, which caused her and many other students to score lower on the SOLs.

The scores of students taking Standardized of Learning (SOL) have decreased by 16 percent in mathematics during the pandemic, and the pass rate went down to 37 percent in 2021.

The SOL scores decreased by 5 points in reading, and the pass rate went down to 39 percent for students who did online learning.

“COVID didn’t change my SOL score in a huge way, it was more about online learning,” said Lakshanaa Balakulam, a seventh-grader on the Mavericks team.

Online learning was implemented in the 2020-2021 school year in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and continue learning, but it was plagued with challenges that made it hard to learn the content.

“The environment can be distracting, and can get annoying at times,” said Ella D’Souza, a seventh-grader on the Discovery team.

Countless students attend online learning from the comfort of their bedrooms where they could be easily distracted with zero supervision from their parents. This led to many students not paying attention while their teacher was teaching important content.

Many teachers were unprepared for the sudden switch to online, and had a hard time teaching classes. Platforms such as Zoom, Blackboard Collaborate and Google Meet were used for students to join, often crashing, causing further difficulties in finishing the curriculum and learning the content being given.

Catherine Lee, a seventh-grader on the Legacy team, said it was hard to learn.

COVID-19 created time for students to improve their education and working skills. Some students benefited positively from quarantine in many different ways, learning new skills they may have never found otherwise, and bonding more with their family and friends.

FCPS is trying new platforms helping students gain more knowledge.

Since COVID, FCPS has tried to increase those scores by creating many new programs such as the VGAs (Virginia Growth Assessments) and Lexia Power Up, a platform where middle schoolers can practice their language arts skills and improve.

Governor Glenn Youngkin’s administration plans to drop the proficiency ratings and test scores on state assessments. According to SOL results that were released students performed much better in the 2021-22 school year in person than the 2020-21 virtual school year.

“Although there were challenges during virtual school, studying for tests and the SOLs,” said Mackenzie Gonzales, a seventh-grader on the Trailblazers team, “we persevered through them.”