Standards Of Learning: An Academic Benefit? Or A Useless Test?

Every year around April and May, students are faced with the reality that SOL tests are right around the corner. Many students feel that these tests lack educational value as they do not impact their grade in the class in any way.  However, I believe that the Standards Of Learning test, or SOL for short, says a lot about the student, the teacher, and the school.




In June 1995, the Virginia Department of Education approved Standards Of Learning in four content areas: English, science, math, and history & social studies.  By October 2005, it was reported that 92% of Virginia’s schools had received accreditation the previous school year.  In order to pass the test, a student must achieve a score of 400 or greater on the 600 point scale.  Passing with a score of 500 or better is considered advanced while a score between 400-499 is considered proficient.




If a certain percentage of students do not pass the SOL’s each year, the school can lose its accreditation.  This assures that teachers and administrators are focusing on the areas of the subjects that are critical to the Standards Of Learning curriculum.  Before SOL’s were implemented, a graduating Virginia high school student only needed to pass a sixth grade level test.  Due to this, about a quarter of the college freshmen from Virginia high schools needed remedial help.




 The SOL test set the bar higher for Virginia’s schools so it is therefore a good thing.  Having a standardized test that all students in the state take allows Virginia to accurately determine what level students are performing at at different schools and in different areas of the state.  This information can then be used to determine what action should be taken to ensure that schools with lower scores are able to increase their scores.