Why Learn After the SOL?
By Viktor Petrusevski, Staff Writer
Cries of complaint fill the classroom. The teacher has announced the start of a new unit. Even after a stressful month of SOLs, learning has yet to end.
The SOL is an end-of-the-year assessment that is taken by Virginia students each year. SOL stands for Standards of Learning, and it is considered to be a test of everything a student has learned during the school year. Teachers prepare lesson plans throughout the year to cover all the information that is needed to do well on the test. By the end of the year, students should have learned everything necessary for the test that year. This means that it doesn’t make sense for students to continue learning after the SOLs.
“Unless you are behind on school work,” says Drew Tidwell (10), “[completing assignments are] pointless because you don’t want to jeopardize your grade.”
Instead of learning new material, the remaining weeks should be used for other productive activities. Students can remediate assignments to improve their grades. Many students are scrambling to boost their final grades by a percent or two to raise their GPAs. The end of the year would be the perfect opportunity to do that. Throughout the school year, teachers prioritize getting their own lessons done so they can get all necessary content taught in time for the SOLs.
In addition, learning after the SOLs is not retained as well as learning before the test. After students pass their SOLs, they relax and act more carefree as the end of the school year approaches. Teachers have to keep in mind that all of that information will be forgotten over the summer break and that time would be better used improving grades and GPAs. In NWEA’s research, summer learning loss was observed in math and reading across third to eighth grade, with students losing a greater proportion of their school year gains each year as they grow older – anywhere from 20 to 50 percent. In the weeks before summer break, students should be given the chance to catch up, not more work to finish.