ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Standards of Learning (SOL) test scores in Charlottesville and Albemarle County for this past school year show a big achievement gap. In some cases, pass rates showed as high as a 50% difference between white and black students.

Test scores fell this year in Charlottesville city schools, as they did across the state, while the achievement gap between white and black students widened. School officials know the problem is there, but solving it has proven to be a challenge.

"I don't think that there were any results that threw us off,” said Eric Irizarry, Charlottesville High School principle.

Irizarry said administrators weren't surprised when they said city schools achievement gaps in last year's SOL test scores. “We know that we have a lot of work to do here from kindergarten up to 12th grade. So we understand that there are some achievement gaps and we're working towards them.” 

Test scores across the school district are down 6% over the last three years on average, but among African American students the scores are down 12% since the 2016 - 2017 school year.

The most striking difference? The science SOL saw 90% of white students pass, while African American students passed at a rate of just 40%. School officials said they're confident in their multifaceted approach to closing it.

"I think the achievement gap is at the forefront of everything we do, from planning, to working with our teachers, to professional development, and that's from Kindergarten on up to 12th grade. Changes don't happen overnight, they take time, but we are committed to making sure that we continue to see improvements in our subgroups,” said Irizarry.

At CHS, Irizarry said that they're going above and beyond to make sure learning is more equitable.

"We're trying to figure out, through remediation, through acceleration, we've increased our detracking efforts here at the high school, to allow equitable access to all of our rigorous classes, so we're continuing the effort to close achievement gaps, meet students where they are, and make them lifelong learners,” said Irizarry.

Despite seeing this achievement gap trend, city schools still ranked sixth out of 131 public school districts in Virginia and in the top 3% nationally in the previous year.