Are SOL's Necessary?

The Pros of the SOL’s

I know I haven’t been giving the SOL’s much credit but just so you can have both sides of this issue I will dedicate this post to all the positive outcomes of the Standards of Learning.

The first year of testing in 1998 only 2% of Virginia schools passed the SOL’s.  Now in 2011 96% of the 1,838 public schools are fully accredited, meaning they passed their SOL’s.  This is a huge accomplishment even though it took the state of Virginia 14 years to get this far.  The SOL’s are a minimum competency exam many public schools had to raise their standards just to reach the standards.  The SOL’s have helped those schools more then we could imagine.  Now many of those schools that could not get passing scores are passing advanced on the tests.

In an earlier blog I mentioned that with these standardized test teachers spend more time on how to bubble in the scan tron sheet than actually teaching.  According to the Virginia Department of Education SOL’s will be online in all schools by 2013.  Here are some of the skills listed on their website to promote the online assessment.

  • Faster return of student scores
  • Increased instructional and remediation time due to timely return of student results
  • Improved efficiency of data collection and management
  • Increased accuracy of student data
  • Increased security of test content and student data
  • Reduced administrative burdens on school and division staff
  • The ability to include “technology-enhanced” items that allow students to indicate their responses in ways other than multiple choice that also may demonstrate critical-thinking skills


SOL tests have helped Virginia to raise its standards but now it is time to raise them again.  Let’s improve the test or change over to the Common Core.  If we raise our standards even higher it is true that our passing rate will drop, but in time schools will improve and grow just like they did at the beginning days of the SOL.  Now is the time to raise the bar!


posted by Emily Williamson in Uncategorized and having 3 Comments


  1. Comment by Tam Tran on June 6, 2012 at 8:13 am

    Well, its great that Virginia SOL scores improve so much over the years. But what about other states? It would be nice if you could include statistics from state with highest poverty rates to see if there is any relationship between them. Virginia is really wealthy compare to other states.

  2. Comment by Amy Cutsail on June 6, 2012 at 10:19 am

    I like how you are giving both sides of the issue. The first thing you said about the start of the SOLs in 1998 was so interesting! I am not surprised that the SOLs will be given online next year since everything eventually turns to computers. I think that will help with the testing because it will be faster and easier for the students. But I also think that electronics and the internet mess up much too often and the system could totally mess up and the scores could get lost, or things like that could happen.

  3. Comment by Emily Hughes on June 7, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    I think it’s good that you are showing the other side of the story. It gives your readers a chance to make their own decision. I am not sure how I feel about SOLs being on computers. On one hand it is more accurate at scoring because you don’t have problems like not filling in the bubble all of the way. On the other hand it has so many distractions. My cousin is a counselor for elementary school kids and she gave an SOL last week. With them being online the kids can use something similar to paint to work out math problems that have graphs and lines. However, her kids were using the paint to draw pictures and write things out that just took too much time.

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