SOL. Three letters some of us dread. Our kids get worried about whether they will pass the tests each year, and spend significant class time preparing for them at school. With no SOL tests given at the end of last school year, you may be worried about this year’s testing cycle. SOL tests are scheduled as early as January 2021 in our area, so you may be wondering how to be sure your child is ready.
First, let’s talk a little bit about the purpose of the SOL tests. According to the Virginia Department of Education website, the “Standards of Learning (SOL) for Virginia Public Schools establish minimum expectations for what students should know and be able to do at the end of each grade or course in English, mathematics, science, history/social science and other subjects.” Your child does not test in all subjects each year, so you should check with your child’s school on what tests are scheduled for them this year.
Here are three tips to be sure your child is on track for a successful SOL testing year:
1. Know your child’s SOL testing schedule.
If your school system switched to a 4×4 this school year, as Virginia Beach did, and your child isn’t scheduled for an SOL subject until the spring, they may be scheduled for testing much later in the year. On the other hand, if they are in an SOL subject now, they may be scheduled for testing as early as January before the term comes to an end. Knowing when they will test and in what subjects is the first step to being prepared.
2. Know how your child is doing in each SOL class.
Without testing last spring, some of us may feel like we are unsure of their progress and level of preparation for testing this year. By connecting with their teacher before testing, you can better assess whether they are ready for testing and what preparation is needed. If your child is in middle school classes, the SOLs this year are for informational purposes only. High school students will need SOL tests to earn a certain number of verified credits for graduation. If your middle school child is taking high school credit courses (such as algebra in middle school), they will need an SOL test to get the verified credit but do not necessarily need to take it right now. In any case, knowing which classes have SOL tests and how your child is currently performing will help you and your child prepare.
3. Know that you have more time.
Help your child stay calm. Remind them of the purpose of SOL testing and put testing dates on the family calendar so there are no surprises. Encourage them to do their best, but help them understand that this year is an extraordinary year and they should see SOL tests as an opportunity to help their teachers know how to best support their learning. It is our understanding that SOL testing will be used for informational purposes, not as a basis for retention. If your child takes a test in January and performs poorly, there will be opportunities for retesting in the spring. If your child isn’t ready right now, you can opt for spring testing. If your child doesn’t get a verified credit this term, schools will offer remediation and additional testing windows in the spring.
Consider a tutor if your child is struggling.
In a typical year, we get a ton of calls in the month or two prior to SOL testing. We understand parents’ concerns and want to help kids be successful on their tests.
This year, we especially want to keep the focus on your child’s learning and skill development, rather than any one testing data point. If you think your child is falling behind, that’s the issue we want to address and what needs your attention, whether or not they have an SOL test in that area of study. Reach out to Tutor A Team to learn more about how we can help.