Opting out of the SOL in Virginia

Virginia Standards of Learning. Some schools breeze through them, others prep for them and focus on the tests more than they care to admit. As a parent you see the effects of the stress of the test weigh down on your child. There is no denying that students these days are given more standardized tests than before. They have to take a pre-benchmark test, a post-benchmark test, tests that predict how they will do on the SOLs, tests that tell them and the school what grade level that are working on, and they need to take the SOLs too. All of that for just one class out of four or five, which each have all their own sets of standardized tests.

The SOLs do serve an important function. They help determine how schools are performing in relation to each other. They help increase accountability in schools. Overall they are a good source of data. However, they are also just a test. A test that forces educators to strictly follow a pacing guide developed by the school system, to cover the entire year’s curriculum within the time before the tests.

As the parent or guardian you can opt your child out of taking the SOLs with no determent to them. Schools try to keep that information from being too widely disseminated since the reporting they do to the state does not take opt-outs into consideration. So every child that opts out of the SOL gets reported as a zero against the school to the state. This does not mean your child receives a zero. Just that the overall pass rate of the school will appear lower than it actually is.

Why would you opt out? Maybe the stress of the test is creating unhealthy levels of anxiety in your child. Levels of anxiety that children should not be experiencing. Maybe you know they are not working on grade level, and that taking the test will be insult to injury. Maybe you need to take them out of town during testing and it would just be easier to opt out rather than reschedule for makeup tests. Maybe you do not want them removed from a class that they enjoy and helps give their school day purpose to be taken to a remediation class to help prep for the tests. Or maybe one of countless other reasons.

If your child is in high school, opting them out may not be the best option. Students do need to pass five SOLs in high school to be able to graduate. If they have not yet met that requirement opting them out may be harming their chances to graduate. If they have passed five then opt them out of any that you feel would benefit them. Elementary and middle school SOLs however have zero impact on your child, and there is nothing tied to them like there is in high school. Whether you opt your child out of taking the SOL or not, just be sure that the choice is what would benefit them the most.

If you have any questions regarding education law or would like someone to advocate for your child’s education, please contact us at 804-423-1382 or email us at info@wmmlegal.com to set up an initial consultation with one of our attorneys.