Archive for May, 2017

SOL Review for You

May 16, 2017

Over the next two weeks, chances are if you have a student in 3rd-12th grade, they are probably going to be taking one or more of the Virginia Standard of Learning…aka, the dreaded SOLs.

For those of us familiar with the SOLs, it’s time for a refresher, and for those of us new to the SOL experience, below is important information for your perusing enjoyment.

The Standards of Learning (SOL) for Virginia Public Schools establish minimum expectations for what students should know and be able to do at the end of each grade or course in English, mathematics, science, history/social science and other subjects. Student performance is graded on a scale of 0-600 with 400 representing the minimum level of acceptable proficiency and 500 representing advanced proficiency. On English reading and mathematics tests, the Board of Education has defined three levels of student achievement: basic, proficient, and advanced, with basic describing progress towards proficiency.

All items on SOL tests are reviewed by Virginia classroom teachers for accuracy and fairness and teachers also assist the state Board of Education in setting proficiency standards for the tests.

Today’s online SOL assessments challenge students to apply what they have learned in ways not possible with traditional multiple-choice tests. Reading, writing, mathematics, and science assessments include “technology enhanced” items that require students to demonstrate critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, much as they do in response to classroom assignments from teachers.

Students who take online grades 3-8 mathematics and grades 3-5 reading tests will be administered a computer adaptive version of the Standards of Learning (SOL) tests.  A computer adaptive test or CAT is an assessment that is customized for every student based on how the student responds to the test questions.

Almost all SOL tests are now taken online. Online tests in science, mathematics, reading and writing include interactive non-multiple choice items that require students to apply what they have learned. Only students with a documented, disability-related need take pencil-and-paper tests. In addition, elementary and middle school students who fail SOL tests by narrow margins or because of extenuating circumstances now may be retested before the end of the year — provided that school divisions first secure parental permission. The retake policy does not apply to the Grade-8 Writing SOL test.

The Virginia Department of Education has been working to expand the types of devices approved for use in the administration of online SOL tests. By transitioning to a new version of test delivery software, TestNav 8, Virginia school divisions gain the flexibility of administering online SOL tests on a wider variety of devices, including touch-screen devices. The TestNav 8 software, via a custom application, allows tests to be administered securely on additional devices, while continuing to support the use of traditional Microsoft Windows-based and Mac OS-based workstations.

Taking the SOLs should not be a source of major stress and anxiety for your student. It should be an opportunity for the student to demonstrate his/her mastery of the material as established in the course curriculum.

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