Standardized Testing During a Pandemic: What Do Students Think?


The term “SOL” stands for “Standards of Learning,” which is the exam that students take at the end of the semester if they are required to. This year, the state of Virginia has decided that students are still going to take them.  Virginia has also released that students may opt out of the exam, but they must have parental consent.

The good aspect of SOLs this year is that they have lowered the passing scores, and depending on which test is being taken, the passing scores may vary.  A positive to this is that the state has allowed students to be able to breathe a little without having to score as high as usual. However, there are many negatives to taking the SOLs this year. The main reason being that many students think they aren’t prepared and didn’t have enough time to learn everything. Also, there are many students who would wish to opt out, but don’t have their parents’ consent. Lastly, many students think that the SOLs are unnecessary this year, due to all the chaos from the Covid-19 school schedule and everything else that went along with it. 

Many LHS students think that SOLs shouldn’t be required, especially this year, since many students feel as if they didn’t get nearly as much time to prepare for these exams that is usually available. Many students think they weren’t well prepared for the test this year.

“We shouldn’t take the SOLs this year. Everyone is going to have a hard time passing since this hasn’t been a normal year and I’m not prepared to take the SOLs; I haven’t learned much this year,” said freshman Katherine Jovel.

“I personally think that the school should not make us take SOLs this year because we’ve had enough on our plate with everything and now they’re trying to put a test on top of it. I just don’t think it’s the right thing to do. I’ve had like no time to prepare because I’ve been working with all my classes. I have not taken an SOL yet, because I was scheduled to take my biology in the winter, but I was sick and it got postponed all the way to spring. The biggest problem with that is I barely remember anything from December, so how am I supposed to take a test with material that I learned from over three months ago? I’m taking my Algebra SOL in May so I’m kind of nervous because even though I’m passing the class, we haven’t had as much time to focus on the things that are going to be on the test,” said freshman Kayla Moyer.

Another idea that students are saying is that the SOLs should be optional. This year, students are able to opt out of an exam with parental consent. However, if there is an exam required to graduate, students are still expected to take it to graduate if they are a senior.

“I think the students should not need to take the SOLs, seeing as the year was hectic and many did not get the material needed to pass these tests. It should be optional in case some students would like to challenge themselves with trying to pass the test. It’s very unnecessary seeing as many students seem to not have enough information on some material due to having problems with how they are learning. I have not taken any SOLs as of now and I feel as if it should not be necessary or required. I tend to think it will be hard and I don’t think I’m very prepared to take it. The teachers have done a great job at getting the material out and teaching during a difficult time. My overall thoughts are that it shouldn’t be required and that it should just be optional but I understand their point seeing as we need a certain amount of SOLs to graduate,” said freshman Diana Vanegas.

As most students at Liberty know, classes switch each semester and the school allows students to choose whether they would like to take any SOLs in the first semester, or if they would rather just take them all in the second semester. This can be a stressful decision for some students who learn and retain information differently.

“I don’t think students should have to take the SOLs because it has been a really stressful year and then telling a kid that they have to prepare for a big test does not help. Everyone is stressing out about the test and not what they are actually learning. I have already taken an SOL. It was okay; I passed but it was really hard. I think we had just enough time to learn the surface of the subject, but we weren’t able to dig deeper. I am kind of stressed about my SOLs next month, but I’ve done everything I can to be prepared. I am just hoping for the best. I have amazing teachers and we’ve gotten pretty far this semester. SOLs are always hard and stressful. It’s just something we have to do. I just don’t think it’s fair to the students who can’t learn as quickly,” said freshman Ashlyn Leatherwood.

There are also students who just think that taking the SOLs this year is very unnecessary and that it is just a bad idea overall. Seeing how nobody has really had a full year of school, many students think it’s not a good idea to take the SOLs this year.

“I think that we shouldn’t have to take SOLs this year because most of the students are virtual. I kind of think SOLs are unnecessary this year because of the pandemic and I think we didn’t have enough time to prepare because we are still learning while we should be preparing for the SOLs. I think I’m going to be okay, but my teachers are still teaching new content and we are just starting to do SOL practice. Since Covid-19 has started, I don’t think students should have to take SOLs since most kids are virtual and a lot of students have been struggling with this year,” said freshman Chase Muse.

Although there are many students who disagree with the idea of taking SOLs this year, not everyone at Liberty disagrees with it. Some students think that they are a good thing and that it’s good for students to take them.

“I think that we should have the SOLs to get them out of the way but I’m glad they lowered the expectations. I think that nobody really was prepared and ready but we should really take them because the seniors had to take them. I am taking an SOL next month. I think it will go fine, minus the part where I didn’t learn much over the terms. I don’t think I’m prepared for certain ones, but others I am. I think my teacher covered what they could in the time they could, but learning online was difficult and I think it will definitely affect the scores,” said freshman Danielle Moore.

Many LHS students feel different about the topic of SOLs and whether or not they should be required this year. This is just another thing amongst the long list of others that many students have a different view on. However, students are still required to take the SOLS this year. Although, the future of students taking SOLs could possibly be different next year with all the students’ opinions on the topic.