Flexibility given for SOL requirements this spring due to coronavirus pandemic

Education

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Department of Education announced on Thursday that they are offering waivers for some Standards of Learning test requirements allowing schools to replace the tests with local assessments.

James Lane, Superintendent of Public Instruction for the Board of Education and Atif Qarni, Secretary of Education determined the exception would be made for history, social studies and English writing tests at the elementary and middle school levels.

According to a VDOE release, Lane issued the waiver allowing schools to replace the Virginia Studies, Civics and Economics, and Grade-8 Writing SOL tests with local assessments, providing that they follow emergency guidance approved by the Board of Education and report student performance data to the state.

These changes allow schools to lessen the need for in-person testing while still meeting national requirements.

Federal education laws require annual reading and mathematics testing for students grade 3 through 8. Reading and math tests are also required for high school students. Students must take a science SOL at least once in elementary, middle and high school. Lane finds it unlikely that any of these national standards will change.

“The waivers and emergency guidance will simplify the logistics of SOL testing this year and ensure that COVID-19 pandemic does not unduly prevent any student from earning a diploma,” Lane said.

SOL testing will still be an option for any school that chooses to not use the waiver.

In addition to the SOL waivers, school divisions have also been given more flexibility with credits toward graduation. Lane waived a cap previously set on the number of locally verified credits a school division can issue each year.

“Innovation is necessary to keep Virginia students learning safely this academic year,” Qarni said. “We will continue working to create new pathways for student and educator success as they adapt to changing circumstances and forms of instruction depending on the health metrics in their communities.”

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