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Consistent with nationwide trends, NAEP showed steep declines in student achievement in math and reading for Virginia students. An additional recent study also showed critical needs for Virginia to address almost every aspect of the educational system. To turn the tide of Virginia schools, officials have called for funding to support struggling schools and address a crisis in school staffing, especially for teachers. Highlights below:

The data

  • The COVID-19 pandemic erased decades of academic progress and widened racial disparities.
  • The study also confirmed that learning loss during the pandemic most hurt students who already were falling behind, particularly Black and Hispanic pupils, and those learning English as a second language, in kindergarten through second grade.
  • Virginia must make up for steep learning losses, but the state is losing teachers far faster than it is replacing them
  • Call for investment of more funds to retain school staff, while boosting math and reading achievement.
  • Data confirmed steep declines in fourth-grade math and reading achievement and documented a widening gap between the number of qualified teachers leaving and entering the profession.
  • NAEP showed fourth-grade reading scores plunging in Virginia from 7th to 34th and fourth-grade math dropping from 4th to 20th.
  • Secretary of Education said such states as Utah and Wyoming performed better because “they kept schools open.”
  • Study showed critical needs for Virginia to address:
    • increased student absenteeism
    • bad classroom behavior
    • mental health concerns
    • declining student achievement
    • overarching need for more support of teachers
    • investments in instructional assistants to balance attention to students with the most needs and their classmates.

State actions that could help:

  • allowing qualified, licensed psychologists to be licensed provisionally to work in schools.
  • increasing investments in new state programs to improve reading and literacy skills.
  • creating a new initiative to address declines in student math skills.
  • investing in instructional assistants to help teachers.
  • raise teacher pay.


  • The state needs to do all it can to support teachers in the classroom.
  • Need to spend available funding now to reverse learning loss.



Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission 

Virginia’s Black and Latino students hit hardest by pandemic learning loss

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