SOL Tests

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

More than 5,600 Virginia public school students who thought they failed a Standards of Learning test last spring, earned passing grades after the scores were recalculated.

The state Department of Education said yesterday that it requested the recalculation of the fifth- and ninth-grade English writing tests after several local school divisions questioned the scores.

Another 7,700 or so received higher scores after the change.

The department allows school divisions to review SOL test results before it receives the scores from the testing contractor, Harcourt Educational Measurement. NO student received a lower score because of the recalculations, and the state says no other recalculations were necessary.

About 2.1 million SOL tests were administered in Virginia public schools last spring. Extended Web Coverage

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.


  • 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: contributed to this report.

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