Educational Disparities in Reading

Overview: Research shows that lack of reading proficiency has a long-lasting impact on future educational attainment, future earnings, and more. To support researchers and advocates promoting state-wide early literacy plans, the Democratization of Data team used the Virginia Department of Education data on the state's English Standards of Learning (SOL) assessment to visually present the reading proficiency rates and the significant gaps in reading proficiency across the Commonwealth. Dr. Michele Claibourn and Sam Powers created the Reading Outcomes and Equity in Virginia website, which provides multiple ways of viewing the English SOL data including:

  • *  estimating the overall SOL reading proficiency rates for students in grades 3-8 by school division and year, and graphing the gaps by socioeconomic status, race, and ethnicity to understand how gaps have changed over time;
  • *  generating grade cohorts to visualize how reading proficiency changes over a student’s time in school and whether reading gaps are reduced or amplified during a child’s time in school; 
  • *  presenting third grade reading proficiency rates by school division over time to examine how the Commonwealth is faring in this critical milestone.

This work helps to showcase how publicly-available data can be made more accessible and useful for decision makers, parents, and advocates.

This visualization shows the racial disparities in English SOL scores for each school district in Virginia. Charlottesville City Schools have the largest racial gap in scores, and Albemarle County Public Schools are the third largest.