What you need to know about Standards of Learning (SOL) testing
Posted on 03/25/2021
Virginia SOL Logo; What you should know about SOLs

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  1. Are there going to be Standards of Learning (SOL) tests this year?
    • Yes, the SOL tests are being administered this year. Testing at high school has been occurring throughout the year. The spring SOL testing window begins April 26 and continues until almost the end of the school year.
    • The SOL tests must be administered in person under secure testing conditions.
    • Virginia is allowing alternatives to certain SOL tests called Local Alternative Assessments that have been embedded in the course work for grade three science, grade three and four history and social science, grade five writing, grade eight writing, and grade eight civics and economics. By completing their required course work in these classes, students will complete these required assessments.
  2. Why are SOL tests being given in the middle of a pandemic?
    • The federal government is requiring states and school divisions to administer summative assessments like the SOL tests this year to gather data on student progress.
    • Federal law requires the annual assessment of students in reading and math in grades 3-8 and once in high school, along with science in grades 5 and 8 and once in high school.
    • Virginia has some additional testing requirements, most notably in high school for graduation. When students pass specific courses and a corresponding SOL test, they earn what is called a “verified credit” toward graduation.
    • To accommodate the challenges of the pandemic, Virginia has extended testing windows as long as possible. PWCS has taken advantage of those long testing windows to allow schools the maximum flexibility possible in scheduling testing for both in-person and virtual students. Schools are working with Transportation Services to provide bus transportation on set days for virtual students to come take the assessments.
  3. I have kept my child in virtual instruction and don’t want them coming into school to take tests. What do I do?
    • The expectation communicated to Virginia school divisions is that students participate in the assessments. However, given the unique circumstances of this year, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) has said that parents who do not want their children to come to school to take the SOL tests may refuse to have them participate due to COVID-19 concerns. That is the language that VDOE uses. If a family refuses to have their student participate in SOL testing because of concerns related to COVID-19, then their student’s score report will say “no score” for a particular test. However, there will not be any negative impact on the student’s final grade for the course.
    • You should contact your child’s school about any refusal intent.
  4. I have heard something about an alternative to the SOL tests that can be given remotely. What is that?
    • Per State Superintendent’s Memo #053-21, Virginia has developed the Virginia Remote Student Progress Tests. This assessment will be available in grades 3-8 for reading and math and for science in grades 5 and 8. Per the memo, “students eligible for this assessment are those who continue to receive all of their instruction remotely and whose parents have refused to allow them to come to school to take the SOL tests.”
    • If a student in grades 3-8 is receiving all their instruction virtually this year and a family chooses to not have their student participate in SOL testing because of concerns related to COVID-19, then their student will be scheduled to participate in the Virginia Remote Student Progress Tests.
    • The results of these Virginia Remote Student Progress Tests can be used as an indicator of student achievement and to identify areas in which students may need additional instruction.
    • The results of these Virginia Remote Student Progress Tests will not be part of a school’s SOL pass rate and will not be included in any federal accountability or state accreditation calculations for schools.
  5. I am the parent of a high school student who needs SOL tests for graduation requirements. What happens if my child doesn’t come in to take the SOL test this spring?
    • Teachers inform students when a specific class has a required SOL test. 
    • Students needing a qualifying score on an SOL test for a verified credit who do not take the SOL tests this spring will be given the opportunity to take any necessary test(s) in the fall of 2021 or the spring of 2022.
    • Last school year, the Virginia Board of Education approved a waiver where if students passed a course with an associated SOL tests, then they were not required to test in order to earn verified credit for the course. However, there is not a similar waiver for the 2020-21 school year.
    • The Office of Student Services has a webpage that details the graduation requirements for students in each graduating class.
    • If you are the parent of a senior and have questions about your student and their progress toward their specific graduation requirements, you should reach out to your child’s counselor.
  6. What do I do if I have questions about the tests that my child is supposed to take?
  • Parents should reach out first to their child’s teacher or counselor with individual questions.
  • For general SOL questions, parents can also contact the Testing Office at 703-791-8308.