People are registered for COVID-19 testing in a walk up line outside of Annandale High School (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
People are registered for COVID-19 testing in a walk up line outside of Annandale High School (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Department of Education says there won’t be enough data without SOL results.

The Virginia Department of Education announced that schools will have their accreditation ratings waived for the next two years, due to the cancellation of the 2020 Standards of Learning (SOL) testing. 

James Lane, Superintendent of Public Instruction, waived the accreditation using the emergency powers granted to him by the General Assembly earlier this year. 

Schools are accredited using the standardized test scores from the previous year. Since Virignia’s SOL tests were canceled in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Education will lack the necessary data to give fair rankings.

The VDOE said in a release that “even if students are able to take tests next spring, the department won’t have baseline data from 2019-2020 for measuring growth.”

“Waiving annual accreditation for a second year will allow our schools to focus on assessing the impact of the shut down on students, academically and on their social and emotional well-being,” Lane said.

“It will also allow school divisions to make decisions about resuming in-person instruction or reverting to virtual learning that prioritize the health of students and staff, without the added pressure of the possible impact on accreditation.”

A task force made up of superintendents, testing directors, teachers, representatives from educational organizations and the vice president of the State Board of Education recommended waiving the accreditation until they had the data to accurately measure growth. 

“If tests are administered during the upcoming school year, the focus should be on evaluating the impact of the pandemic on student learning and establishing a new baseline for measuring student growth,” said Lane.