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According to this website, parents can opt their children out of Virginia's Standards of learning exams without having to provide any justification: http://pwceducationreform.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/opting-out-of-state-tests/

"Students in public schools in Virginia are required to take the state mandated Standards of Learning exams. These tests begin in 3rd grade and extend through graduation. School districts are not allowed to withdraw students from mandated testing and are “scored” on their percentage of students taking the exams. Inclusion in some middle and high school programs may hinge on SOL test scores and students must pass a certain number of SOL exams in certain subjects to graduate.

However, parents can voluntarily withdraw their children from the Virginia SOL exams without justification. If their child hasn’t passed the necessary exams to graduate, he / she may not graduate and their participation in some programs might be jeopardized, but no justification is necessary for a parent to voluntarily withdraw their child from state mandated testing.

Parents choosing to withdraw their children from state mandated testing should expect to be challenged to reconsider their decision by school administrators. This is partly because there is no mechanism for reporting “opt-out” on the SOL exams and the student’s score on that exam will be zero.

There is no established procedure for “opting” your child out of state mandated exams. We suggest that you notify your child’s school of your decision in writing at least one month before the exams are scheduled and be prepared to have your decision challenged by school administrators."

[Source: Parents and Kids Against Standardized Testing - Discussion for Virginia]



In Virginia, the state guidelines say that the child is required to take the SOL tests if they are enrolled in the school. If the child arrives after the beginning of the academic year, the answer key is coded so that any child who enters after the 20th day of instruction, or is a student in the English as a Second Language program, will not have his/her scores counted against the school if they do not achieve a passing score on the tests. However, if the child does pass the tests, then the school can use that score for their statistics. A child who does NOT take the test at all but is enrolled in the school will have his/her score recorded as a failing score for the school.

What are then the implications for an elementary or middle school child who does not pass the test? Parents of evacuated children have expressed concern about the implications of the SOLs for their children who have not been in school long enough to receive instruction on the material being tested. First of all, it has no impact on promotions or class assignments. If a child does not pass all four of the SOLs, then remediation may be offered the following year, but cannot be mandated. One school supervisor advised a parent that in the case of evacuations, school personnel should be able to understand that any less-than-passing rate would most likely be attributable to the unique circumstances of the child, and would not be used to form judgements about a student's potential performance. An advocate for the child such as a teacher, parent, or administrator should also be able to write a letter to explain the evacuation circumstances to add to the child's record if the child does unusually poorly.

For high school students, the scenario in Virginia is much different, as Standards of Learning tests are required for graduation and thus become high-stakes testing. New graduation requirements are being phased in, and students will be required to pass a certain number of "verified units of credit" (SOLs) in order to receive either the modified, standard, or advanced studies diploma. Refer to State graduation requirements, diploma types, and credit requirements. (Note that county requirements might include additional requirements - see Fairfax County's requirements.) There are alternatives that may be acceptable to the SOL end-of-course exam that would suit the unique needs of a transfer student such as a Foreign Service student. See graduation requirements or substitute tests for transfer students on the Virginia Department of Education web site. Whether a student passes or fails will not be reflected on their transcripts, and they are given other opportunities to retake the exams.

The Family Liaison Office has an Education and Youth Officer knowledgeable about current issues in education, and may be contacted at FLOAskEducation@state.gov. Additionally, your child's teacher(s) and guidance counselors at the school are excellent resources and it is recommended that you communicate individual concerns with the appropriate school personnel as well. Standardized tests are changing the face of public education, and it is in the best interests of parents and children to be informed and aware of how these issues will affect their future.

[Source: Parents and Kids Against Standardized Testing - Discussion for Virginia]

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