S.O.L. Break

By: Erin Tate
By: Erin Tate

One local lawmaker wants to take a break from the Standards of Learning.

Senator Emmett Hanger's S.O.L. suspension plan has already been submitted to legislators. Some, who have never been fans of standardized testing, like Hanger's idea.

But many school officials fear the move could be counterproductive. Augusta County Superintendent Gary McQuain said slowing down on S.O.L.'s could cause schools a loss of momentum.

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Standards of Learning (SOL)

  • In June, 1995, the Virginia Board of Education adopted a new, more rigorous student academic standards of four core content areas of English, mathematics, science, and history and social science.

  • The SOL outline what a student is expected to know and to be able to do at each grade level and in certain high school courses.

  • The content of the Standards of Learning form the basis for the SOL tests administered in grades third, fifth, eighth and high school.

Facts

  • Before the SOLs and accompanying reforms, the requirement for graduating from high school in Virginia was to take and pass a sixth grade test. The Literacy Passport Test (LPT) has three parts: math, reading, and writing. A student was not supposed to be able to graduate from high school without passing this test. In other words, there was a consequence for students – but none for schools. In addition, studies conducted by the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV) found that 24-25 percent of Virginia high school graduates who go on to Virginia’s public colleges need remedial help.

  • Governor Gilmore and the General Assembly have appropriated generous funding for the implementation of the SOLs. In the 1998-2000 budget, the appropriations for public education increased by $1.2 billion, a 17.6 percent increase over the previous biennium budget. In addition to basic SOQ funding, Governor Gilmore and the General Assembly have appropriated $25.2 million for teacher training, $29.6 million for remediation, $25.1 million for supplemental instructional materials, and $5.1 million for the diagnostic Early Reading Initiative.

  • Not a single school in Virginia failed the test in 1998. However, nearly 98 percent of our schools failed to meet the standard that has been set for the year 2004.

Source: www.knowledge.stat.va.us/ contributed to this report.


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