Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS) has failed its third-graders and in doing so has failed the community at-large.
The most recent Standards of Learning (SOL) scores for ACPS third-grade readers paint a bleak picture of the subject students’ futures. They also expose a foundering model of government education promulgated by a disconnected, incompetent leadership team.
While some ACPS elementary schools showed minor improvement in reading evaluations, most were down—some dramatically. Overall, the Division dropped four points from the previous year and fell below the state average:
1. ACPS 2021/2022 third grade pass rate is 66% compared to 73% for six-division peer group and 68% for State.
1a. ACPS trend — 2016/17 = 71%; 2017/18 = 71%; 2018/19 = 70%; 2020/21 = 70%; 2021/22 = 66%
1b. State trend — 2016/17 = 75%; 2017/18 = 72%; 2018/19 = 71%; 2020/21 = 61%; 2021/22 = 68%
2. ACPS third grade reading pass rate has declined 4 percentage points, or 6% since last year. Peer group increased 4 percentage points, year-to-year.
3. ACPS is currently in an 8-way tie for 60th in the State. Peers rank as high as 8th and low as 68th.
4. ACPS has School Readiness of 80% compared to 84% for peer group and 82% for State.
5. ACPS spends $13,255 per student, $1,047, or 8.6% more than the peer group and 6.1% above the State average.
5a. ACPS spends the second most among the peer group, yet has the second to lowest reading score
5b. York County, which outscores ACPS by 20 points, spends $2,522 or 19% less per student.
5c. Roanoke County, which outscores ACPS by 15 points, spends $2,435 or 18% less per student.
5d. Williamsburg-James City County, which outscores ACPS by 5 points, spends $691 or 5% less per student.
5e. Fauquier, the county with the highest per student expenditure at $13,311, has a pass rate equal to ACPS. There is an inverse relationship between expenditures and test scores.
6. ACPS receives 65% of funding from local taxes compared to 51% for the peer group and 47% statewide.
6a. York County with the lowest % funding from local taxes (35%) and the lowest per student expenditures in the peer group has the highest reading score.
6b. Roanoke County with the second lowest % funding from local taxes (42%) and the second lowest cost per student, has the second highest reading score.
7. The County with the lowest peer group expenditure per student (York) has the highest School Readiness at 90%, highest reading score at 86% and lowest percentage of local tax $ support at 35%.
While the Albemarle County School Board and Superintendent Matt Haas continue “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic,” their Division is sinking and its dependent students are drowning.
More funding for Albemarle County Public Schools clearly is not the answer, as that lethargic strategy has been tried annually for decades, without demonstrable success.
Removal of ineffective and overcompensated administrators—and the electoral changing-out of the feckless governing body—may be the quickest way to right the ship. Defunding the soul corrupting, moribund Albemarle County Government Schools may be a more permanent solution.