ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The latest results from the Virginia Department of Education’s Standards of Learning (SOL) tests show improvements by Albemarle County students in writing, math, history and science.

Pass rates in reading, meanwhile, dropped by a point from 75 to 74%, although they were one point above the 73% state average.

“While some pass rates were modestly higher this year, there’s no question that, overall, these scores are far off the mark when it comes to ensuring that all of our students are learning at their highest level,” said Dr. Chandra Hayes, Albemarle County Public Schools Assistant Superintendent for Instruction.

Pass rates for Black and Hispanic students, students from economically disadvantaged homes, students with disabilities, and English Learners remained below division-wide averages. 

For example, while the overall pass rate for the division was 74% in reading, it was 48% for Black students, 50% for Hispanic students, 44% for students with disabilities, 49% for students from economically disadvantaged homes, and 24% for English Learners.

Hayes said the results only reinforce the importance of a recent audit of the division’s instructional practices and policies, especially as they impact students of color. 

The audit, conducted by an outside education consultancy nonprofit, detailed five recommendations for closing achievement gaps that were again revealed in the SOL test results. The audit was concentrated on K-5 reading and math programs in the division’s elementary schools and its Algebra 1 program in middle and high schools.

Hayes notably underscored the significance of third-grade reading skills to the future academic success of students throughout their K-12 education.

“Third grade is a time when a child should be transitioning from learning to read to reading to learn. It’s when comprehension becomes essential to understanding and mastering content in all subject areas,” she said.