RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane says the focus of Standards of Learning testing, or SOLs, this spring should focus on identifying the academic needs of students and help them recover from the impact COVID-19 has had on learning.
Lane adds when schools review test results this spring and summer, their focus should be on students’ needs.
“The results of the SOL tests will be used differently this year. The results are needed to inform what teachers and schools do next with our students,” Lane said. “Teachers and principals need to know exactly how kids are doing so they can design instruction and provide support to students over the summer and throughout the next school year that meet their unique academic needs. The SOL tests will provide critical information on where our students are excelling and where they are struggling in a way that is consistent from school to school.”
Majority of SOL tests are mandated by the U.S. Department of Education and Lane says while they are still requiring tests in reading, math and science, they’ve provided some flexibility to the process to hopefully take the stress off.
In Virginia, that means longer testing windows. The state Board of Education is also allowing school divisions to administer local assessments in place of SOL tests in writing and history not required by federal law.
Testing results will also not be used to determine state accreditation of a school.
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The federal government also requires school divisions to give the tests in-person. COVID-19 guidelines and social distancing will remain in place.
“Every school division will be bringing students in for tests while still practicing physical distancing and requiring the use of masks,” Lane said. “I encourage parents with questions about the health and safety protocols that will be in place during testing to talk to their principals about their concerns.”