P. O. BOX 2120

June 11, 1999


TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Paul D. Stapleton
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: SOL Test Results & Promotion Policies

 Questions have been raised as to whether or not the scores from the Standards of Learning (SOL) test results should be the
 determining factor in promoting or retaining students in grades 3, 5, and 8. 

 I direct your attention to the Standards of Accreditation, 8 VAC 20-131-30, which state that the SOL test results must be
 considered, but must not be the only factor considered, in determining whether a student should be promoted or retained.
 Section A of 8 VAC 20-131-30 states: "For grades in which the SOL tests are given, achievement of a passing score on the
 SOL tests shall be considered in promotion/retention policies adopted by the local school board." Section B states: "Each
 student at grades 3, 5, and 8 shall take and be expected to achieve a passing score on the SOL tests for the student's
 respective grade. Schools shall use the SOL test results as part of a multiple set of criteria for determining advancing or
 retaining students in grades 3, 5, and 8." (Italics added for emphasis.) 

 The relationship between SOL test scores and promotion and retention policies was an issue that received the attention of the
 many members of the General Assembly. You may recall that 1999 General Assembly considered legislation (HB 2570 and
 SB 1162) that would have specified that the results of any Standards of Learning assessments shall not constitute the sole
 basis for the promotion or retention of students.  

 The legislation was not passed, in large part because the members determined that it was unnecessary in view of the language
 included in the Standards of Accreditation. However, it is my view that the General Assembly may consider this issue again if
 school divisions use SOL test scores as the sole factor in promoting or retaining students.  

 If you have questions about this issue, please contact Mrs. Diane Atkinson, Assistant Superintendent for Policy and Public
 Affairs at (804) 225-2403