Titanic failure: Albemarle County Public Schools’ sinking academic performance

Under the tutelage of feckless Superintendent Matt Haas and a pathetically phlegmatic, all-Democrat School Board, Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS) has become an academic embarrassment.

Despite massive per-pupil spending, ACPS continues to sink in comparison to other Virginia Divisions, especially in lower socio-economic and language-learning student demographics.

To wit:

Third Grade Reading
2022/23 Pass Rate: 64.20%, down from 65.68% for 2021/2022

All Kids (1,056): 64.20%
Disadvantaged Kids (333 = 32% of total students): 35.14% pass rate
Not Disadvantaged (723): 77.59% (should be 90+%)
Socio-economic gap: 42.45 points

All Black Kids (112): 30.36%
Disadvantaged Kids (83): 21.69%
Not Disadvantaged (29): 55.17%
Socio-economic gap: 33.48 points

All Hispanic Kids (161): 55.17%
Disadvantaged Kids (96): 32.15%
Not Disadvantaged (65): 53.85%
Socio-economic gap: 21.70 points

All White Kids (636): 77.67%
Disadvantaged Kids (91): 52.75%
Not Disadvantaged (545): 81.83%
Socio-economic gap: 29.08 points

All White kids (636): 77.67%
All Black Kids (112):  30.36%

Gap                                 47.31% The difference between Black and White kids is higher because 74% of Black kids are disadvantaged compared to 14% of White kids.         

  • Albemarle is now tied for 66th out of 130 school divisions, down from tied for 60th last year.
  • Now tied with Augusta, Brunswick, Cumberland and Middlesex counties which are under-resourced communities compared to Albemarle but they all managed to improve from last year. ACPS went down! 
  • Eight of 15 ACPS elementary schools had decreases in third grade reading pass rates from 2021/22 to 2022/23.
  • Lowest reading score was at Woodbrook Elementary School 32%, down from 47% last year. Murray slipped from 96% last year to 89% this year. Brownsville dropped from 82% to 75%. Baker-Butler fell from 75% to 66%. Greer slipped from 44% to 39%. Red Hill improved from 43% to 63%. Highest score was 92% pass rate at Hollymead, up from 89% last year. Hollymead is 18% low-income (63 kids) and has 352 students in total. By comparison, Woodbrook with the lowest reading scores is 57% low-income (347 kids) and has 609 total students. What kind of additional help do you think students get at Woodbrook compared to Hollymead? Hollymead has 8% (28 kids) English learners. Woodbrook has 24% (146 kids). What adjustments have been made at Woodbrook to accommodate this demographic?

As much as ACPS tries to make this about skin color (for self-serving political purposes), it’s actually a socio-economic problem and a language problem. ACPS doesn’t know how to teach (or doesn’t care about teaching) low-income kids and English learners to read, and their inability to do this fundamental job is dragging everyone down.

As an aside, ACPS was one of 70 school divisions that had a decrease in third grade reading pass rate. 51 divisions had increases and nine were unchanged. ACPS’s peer school division York County remained at 86% for the past three years. Now 22 points higher than ACPS and they spend a lot less than ACPS to have higher scores.

And, another ACPS disaster is looming in School Readiness, as exposed in a recent assessment:

School Readiness (Assessment in fall of kindergarten)

State 77%            ACPS 71%

State 74%            ACPS 74%

State 82%            ACPS 80%

ACPS took over the Virginia Preschool Initiative program from the Albemarle County Department of Social Services. How’s that worked out? Fewer kindergartners are ready for school, and will likely suffer academically for years, as a result.

Nothing will change significantly until there is institutional change. Superintendent Haas, the quarter-million-dollar-man, is not even close to earning his keep. Thousands of parents are calling for his ouster.

As for the Albemarle County School Board, in present composition, they are another lost cause, reshuffling deck chairs (and school names) while the ACPS Titanic submerges.

Fortunately, the electorate will have the opportunity to subvert the dominant paradigm via November School Board elections. But, will they bother to vote?


  1. Goes without saying: shooting on 9/13 at Fashion Square Mall…fatal one across the street at Jiffy Lube…failing schools. When leftists gain a foothold, mayhem, death, anarchy, dysfunction & corruption ensue. Look no further than the schools. They are the canary in the coal mine of leftist failure.

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