SOL Message to the Loudoun County Community (Wednesday January 27, 2021)
Parents/Guardians and Students:
The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) requires that state and federal assessments be delivered under secure, standardized testing conditions in the presence of school personnel and may not be administered remotely to students. Students in any instructional model (100% distance or hybrid) must attend school in person to participate in Standards of Learning (SOL) testing. To support students’ health and safety, Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) will ensure that health mitigation procedures are in place and social distancing is observed. Transportation will be provided to students who reside within a bus zone.
LCPS will be administering the Spring Writing SOL test to students enrolled in grade 8 Reading and English 11 March 1-March 26 and the Spring Non-Writing SOL tests to students in grades 3-12 May 3-May 28.
Students enrolled in a high school level course must accrue standard credits by passing a course and verified credits by passing an SOL test or board-approved substitute tests toward graduation.
While we encourage all students to participate in assessment, we understand that some families may have concerns about the in-person testing requirement. Parents who do not wish for their student to participate in state and/or federally mandated assessments may indicate their refusal by emailing their student’s School Testing Coordinator. A parent refusal form can also be found on the LCPS website.
Questions regarding assessment administration or requirements may be addressed to Leigh.Bennett@lcps.org, Supervisor, Assessment Services.
World History 1, World History 2, & US/VA History
VDOE is providing flexibility to school divisions for the 2020-2021 school year ONLY that allows them to collect and evaluate student work in place of an SOL test for the following History and Social Science courses:
- Virginia Studies
- World History I
- World History II
- US & VA History
- World Geography
The LCPS Social Science and Global Studies Office has decided to implement this alternative assessment process. They are developing 2 performance assessment per course, which will be administered to supplement current classroom assessment practices. The performance assessments can be delivered in-person or remotely and will be scored by the teacher using the state rubric. Grades/Scores from these assessments will be entered into the gradebook and “retakes” will be available as needed.
Students who are not enrolled in a History course with an associated SOL test, but still need a verified credit will access an SOL test. Students in courses with an associated SOL test will not be able to choose between the SOL test and the performance assessments; they will participate in the performance assessments.
In early June, each high school’s LAVC Committee will convene and review each student’s collection of evidence to determine whether the student should be awarded an LAVC. The collection of evidence will include the student’s final grade in the course, grade/score on each of the performance assessments, and grades on other classroom assessments for standards not covered by the performance assessment. The SSGS Department Chair must be a member of the committee so that questions regarding the scoring process for the performance assessments or what constitutes content mastery for the course can be addressed.
VDOE’s emergency guidelines require that the student pass the course (which will likely be defined as a D or higher) AND demonstrate mastery in the course content (which will likely be defined as passing both performance assessments or the retakes).
Standards of Learning (SOL) Tests Required (Federally Accountability Tests)
Algebra 1 (1st Math at High School Level)
English 11 Reading
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)
It's important that parents and students understand that administering SOL tests is not a local decision. LCPS is complying with state and federal legislation (ESSA).
- Why are we giving SOL tests this year when we didn’t last year?
In March 2020, Virginia public schools closed for the duration of the school year. Virginia was able to acquire a waiver from the United States Department of Education which freed us from having to administer federally mandated assessments in Reading, Math, and Science. Virginia also issued a waiver which freed us from having to administer state mandated assessments in Writing and History. To aid students in graduating or remaining on track to graduate, VDOE implemented emergency guidelines that allowed school divisions to award a locally-awarded verified credit to students enrolled in a high school level course at the time of the closure who passed the course/demonstrated mastery. Through this process students earned a verified credit without having to take an SOL test.
This year, schools are not closed and the United States Department of Education is not providing states a waiver. We must administer federally mandated assessments, regardless of the instructional model or health conditions. VDOE has attempted to support school divisions by offering the opportunity to provide performance assessments in place of SOL testing in Writing and History (state mandated assessments). LCPS is implementing the flexibility in all History and Social Science courses, but not in Writing. A combination of classroom assessments, projects/quizzes, and the performance assessments must cover all of the standards that would be assessed by the History and Social Science SOL test. Performance assessments will be scored by the classroom teacher using state rubrics. High school students who pass the course, pass the performance assessments, and demonstrate content mastery will be awarded a locally-awarded verified credit at the conclusion of the school year. SOL tests in Reading, Math, and Science remain the only way for students to earn a verified credit for their diploma.
2. Why can’t we give the SOL tests remotely?
SOL tests are proprietary assessments protected by a contractual agreement with the VDOE to maintain their security. Virginia is unable to administer SOL tests in a manner that would jeopardize their security. This includes remote administration which would be vulnerable to screen captures or other recording violations. Additionally, certain system and network requirements must be met to administer the SOL tests, which prevents the tests from being administered by non-VDOE approved entities.
3. Are there alternatives to the SOL test?
There are no alternatives for students taking grade level SOL tests.
VDOE will accept set cut scores on approved tests in place of some high school level SOL tests. The most frequently used tests are the SAT, PSAT/NMSQT, and the ACT. Families wishing to explore this option should reach out to their School Counselor for support.
4. How can you say it’s safe to test but it isn’t safe to instruct?
The United States Department of Education is not providing waivers from federal assessment and Virginia must administer the SOL tests in person; therefore, we are required to test students at school, regardless of our instructional model or rates of infection. LCPS has implemented rigorous health mitigation strategies to ensure the safety of students and staff while we meet these assessment mandates.