Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday announced that the commonwealth’s annual data competition will focus this year on finding ways to make its education system produce more equitable learning outcomes for students.
The event, titled the “Equity in Education Datathon,” will be held at the Library of Virginia in Richmond in October. According to the competition’s website, multidisciplinary teams from government, higher education, private industry, and nonprofit organizations will join for two days to use new and existing data sets to “support the Commonwealth’s goal of using data and analytics to improve educational outcomes and promote equity.”
In a press release, Northam notes that “education is the best tool we have to empower and equip all Virginia students to reach their full potential, but we know we have more work to do to address systemic disparities that exist within our educational system.”
Standardized test scores for the 2018-2019 school year released on Tuesday — in Virginia called Standards of Learning assessments — revealed gaps in pass rates across demographic groups in all five of the subjects covered by the test: reading, English writing, mathematics, science and history/social science.
On the reading assessment, 89 percent of Asian students passed and 85 percent of white students passed, compared to 65 percent for black students, 66 percent for Hispanic students, 65 percent for economically disadvantaged students, 47 percent for students with disabilities and 35 percent for “English learners.” Similar statistical profiles are found across all five subjects dating back at least the past three years.