Standards of Learning

Virginia has a statewide system of support and accountability for its public schools. These standards hold the state accountable for rigorous academic standards, called the Standards of Learning (SOL). Success is measured through annual SOL testing and also through alternative testing. The standards test students in English, math, science, and social studies. Tests are conducted at the end of 3rd, 5th, 8th grade, and at the end of some high school courses in all subjects, but English and math are tested in grades 3-8, and also at the end of some high school courses. Testing depends on the curriculum, and can occur at any grade level according to what the curriculum says. In 2001, there was a parental resistance to the Standards of Learning, or SOLs, saying they were unrealistic goals. By 2004, students were required to take a series of 11 exams that were all based on the SOLs. By 2007, in order for a school to keep its accreditation, they must have a 70% pass rate of the SOLs among their students. They also argued that the tests did no accurately match what was in the curriculum. As stated by the Standards of Learning Objectives, "The Standards of Learning Program Establishes a framework for general education in the public schools in Virginia. It includes objectives to help students acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes believed necessary for further education and employment." When the standards were first implemented, some veteran teachers saw them as a loss, while some inexperienced teachers viewed them as a gain to the educational system. Losses might include things like a sense of a loss of power, and gains might be seen as things like a great opportunity for collaboration between teachers. The major goal of having standards for curriculum is to create quality American schools. Diane Ravitch is one of the predominant people to help write the standards, and she says that "standards give clear expectations for students, teachers, parents, colleges, and employers that will result in improved student achievement.