Ever-changing SOLs

The new SOL policy and its effect on students and teachers

Boden Gentile, Reporter

After the SOL tests last year, new policies were put into place that revolutionized the way that the Virginia standardized exams were taken. The policy cut in half the number of required SOL tests for advanced and standard diplomas, a move that is intendedto meet multiple objectives including reducing stress on students and teachers.

“Beginning with the 2018-2019 Freshman class, all students will need only five SOLs for either a standard or advanced diploma (Biology, World History 1 and whichever math the student is enrolled in –Algebra 1, Geometry or Algebra 2, and English Reading [and] Writing),” Langley’s assessment coach, Mrs. Dabroski said.

Among the reasons for this big change is to regain instruction time lost due to the hours spent preparing and taking these standardized tests.

“Fewer tests mean more instructional time and a lot less stress…last year in May we administered over 4700 tests…this year the number is closer to 3900 tests and in 2020-2021 we will administer approximately 2000 SOLs,” Mrs. Dabroski said.

Moreover, these tests fail to reflect how well a teacher has prepared students throughout the year because no class is the same. However, this policy does come with a few drawbacks and potential issues further down the line.

“Obviously it is easier to test everyone, but it’s not best for students. Explaining the options to students so that they can make the best choice for them is the biggest challenge. Students have to weigh the pros [and] cons of taking particular exams,” Director of Student Services, Mr. Peterson said.

Students have weighed in on this policy as well, suggesting it allows for greater focus and emphasis on finals and important class projects.

“I think [the new policies] can be fair and influence students to try to do their best the first time around in hopes of passing and not having to do another one. Although, I do think that does make further years easier. I don’t know if that will be beneficial to the students or harmful, because it will not show their true ambition but will allow them to focus on their finals and other late term projects that they have to turn in,” freshman Ryan D’Aquila said.