What are the Standards of Learning (or SOLs)?
The SOLs are the minimum curriculum requirements for student achievement
in the upgraded, more rigorous state curriculum. They were developed by
the State Department of Education as a response to the fact that the
level of academic achievement of students in Virginia has not been
adequate for graduates to compete successfully in the international job
market nor to fulfill their responsibilities as citizens of Virginia and
the United States for the 21st century. The Board of Education firmly
believes that all students in Virginia, regardless of their background
or where they live, deserve a quality education based on the same
standards. Parents and taxpayers should also be able to know how well
schools are doing in meeting those standards.
 What parts of the curriculum do the SOLs address?
The SOLS set forth minimum learning standards for every child from
kindergarten through the 12th grade in four major academic areas:
English (which includes reading and writing), math science, and history
and social science (history, geography, civics, and economics). They
also incorporate computer technology learning standards, intended to
result in computer literacy for all students before they enter high
 What grades will be tested for SOL proficiency?
SOL tests are given as follows:
grade 3: English Reading, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science
grade 4: English,Mathematics, and Virginia Studies
grade 5: English Reading, English Writing, Mathematics, and Science
grade 6: English Reading, Mathematics, US History 1
grade 7: English Reading, Mathematics, US History 2
grade 8: English Reading, English Writing, Mathematics, Civics and Economics, and Science
grade 11: English Reading and English Writing
Middle and High School - certain EOC (end-of-courses):
Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, World History 1, World History 2, VA and US History, Earth Science, Biology, and Chemistry
 What are the measures to ensure accountability for student achievement?
Accountability is to be achieved in two primary ways. First, students
must pass a minimum number of high school SOL tests in order to receive a
diploma. A student's test results for grades 3, 5, and 8 must be
considered in promotion decisions. These requirements address the
problem of promoting students before they are academically ready. The
requirements must also meet the demand of Virginia's business community
in that all high school graduates have demonstrated ability in essential
skills, such as reading, writing, and math.Second, the State Board of
Education believed it would not be fair to hold only a school's students
accountable for academic achievement. The school must be held
accountable to students, parents, taxpayers, and employers. Schools with
students not passing the minimum learning standards can lose their
 What are the consequences of not passing the SOL tests?
Consequences occur at both the student level and the school level. At
the student level, a requirement is being phased in that mandates
student accountability on the state end-of-course tests. Although the
new SOL testing began in 1998, students in the 9th grade class of
2000-2001 were the first required to pass at least six of the
end-of-course tests to graduate from high school.For individual schools,
the ongoing accreditation of a school by the Commonwealth of Virginia
is based on a designated percentage of students passing the test.
However, in order to give students, parents, and schools time to adjust
to the sweeping nature of the reform, the Board of Education decided to
phase in this requirement as well. No individual school can lose its
accreditation because of poor performance by its students on the SOL
tests until the 2006-2007 academic year.
 Why did the majority of students across the Commonwealth perform poorly on the first administered SOL tests?
The new Standards of Learning tests have raised the bar for academic
proficiency several notches. When performance expectations and
measurements are increased, there is an initial lull or adjustment
period while students and teachers focus on the new criteria for
instruction. In some instances, these first SOLs tested students on
material that they had not been taught due to a realignment of
curriculum objectives. The Board of Education realized there would be a
transitional period needed to meet this sweeping instructional
challenge, so they provided a cushion of time to meet these
requirements. These scores now serve as a baseline from which schools in
Roanoke City, as well as those across the state, can plot their growth
as they incorporate new strategies and actions for continuous SOL test
 Are the SOL tests the only measure of an individual school's effectiveness?
Of course not. Learning consists of much more than just assimilating
facts, information, and data. But the SOL tests have become an excellent
academic measure for students, parents, teachers, school leaders, and
the community at large. Classroom teachers will deliver the new
curriculum while continuing to promote the true value and joy of a
well-rounded education for each student.
 Will these new "standards" make a positive instructional
difference for the approximately 1,124,000 students in Virginia's public
There are great expectations for these new Standards of Learning and
heightened accreditation standards. It will take several more years for
all students to benefit from them fully. However, everyone should
remember that the reform has one primary, overriding goal: to raise the
academic achievement levels of all students so they can become
productive, successful, responsible citizens of our Commonwealth and of
 How will student and school performance be communicated to parents and the community?
Students' performance on the SOL tests and the accreditation rating of
every school will be communicated to parents and the community through
an annual School Performance Report Card. In addition to information on
the academic performance of their child's school and local school
division, the Virginia Report Card will provide information to parents
on attendance rates, dropout rates, and school safety. The first report
cards of this type were distributed in early 1999. From there, they are
given annually to parents in the early fall around the beginning of the
school year. They will enable parents, teachers, and school
administrators to have a baseline against which progress in academic
achievement may be measured.
 How can parents help toward improving SOL test score results?
arents always have and must continue to play a major role in the
academic performance of their child. Students generally do much better
in all aspects of their school life when they have a strong support base
at home. Parents should continue to talk about school with their
children, discussing daily what is being covered in class, reviewing
homework assignments, and encouraging reading and participation in
stimulating and challenging projects and activities. Monitor your child
regularly for possible changes in performance and interest in school, be
alert for mood swings or personality changes, and be aware of changes
in friends and acquaintances. Through example, show your children that a
sound education is currently the highest priority in their lives, that
learning is a life-long adventure. Parents should also maintain strong,
open communications with their child's teachers, counselor, and
principal, especially on matters related to study skills and test taking
The Standards of Learning should not be considered a threat, but an
opportunity for students, teachers, schools, and parents to join in a
renewed spirit of partnership and accountability to promote academic
excellence for all children in Roanoke City Public Schools and
throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.