P.O. BOX 2120
November 22, 2000
TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Jo Lynne DeMary
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Participation of Students with Disabilities in the Standards of Learning Assessment

The purpose of this memorandum is to provide clarification on the participation of students with disabilities in the Standards of Learning (SOL) testing program. It is expected that all children participate in the state accountability system. Therefore, students with disabilities must be included in either the SOL tests or the alternate assessment. (Participation criteria for the alternate assessment was distributed through Supts. Memo 61 [informational], March 24,2000.)

For the 2000-2001 school year, the individual studentís current IEP will determine how the student will participate in the assessment program. Therefore, for this school year, the student may be exempted from participation, based upon his/her IEP.

Beginning with the 2001-2002 school year, when the IEP team determines that the student does not meet the criteria for participation in the alternate assessment, the team must then determine the extent to which the student will participate in the SOL assessments. No child with a disability may be exempt from all of the SOL tests at any given grade level; however, the IEP team may determine that the child will not participate in one or more of the individual tests. Should such action occur, the IEP team must state why the particular test is not appropriate and how the child will be assessed in that academic area. A student must participate in any test that carries a benefit such as a verified credit. Thus a student with a disability pursuing a standard or advanced diploma must participate in any applicable end-of-course tests.

The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, has issued a guidance document on this topic. This document may be accessed at

Questions about this provision may be referred to Mr. H. Douglas Cox, acting assistant superintendent, Division of Instructional Support Services at 804/225-3252 or (