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How to evaluate SOL scores

Welcome back to school!

By now, kids who took the Standards of Learning (SOL) tests at Fairfax County Public Schools might have received their SOL scores in the mail (or they will receive them soon).

What do these SOL scores mean?

(If you want to understand more about SOL tests, passing rates, and scores, see How SOL passing rates are different from SOL scores)

The letter that parents receive with their kids’ test results via mail look like this: Continue Reading…

How Standards of Learning (SOL) pass rates are different from SOL scores

Last week, I was talking to a new client, Betty. She was asking me about how we rate schools.  I told her that we use the SOL passing rates to help our readers compare schools.

Students take Standards of Learning (SOL) tests

Students take Standards of Learning (SOL) tests

She was satisfied with the answer, but she went one step further. She asked about exactly what SOL passing rates were, and how they related to SOL scores, which she had heard of from her friends with kids in school.

So let’s start from what Standards of Learning (SOL) are:

What are Standards of Learning (SOL)?

The Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) are standardized tests that are administered to students starting in 3rd grade and through high school.  These tests cover subjects such as English, mathematics, science, and history [1].

The SOL tests are meant to measure how well the students are learning throughout the State of Virginia.

To measure how well students are learning, the schools and their corresponding districts provide each test’s result up to the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). The VDOE  compiles the results and publishes them as scores and passing rates.

What is an SOL score?

Each SOL test is made up of about 35-50 items or questions.   To grade the test, a score is calculated based on each student’s number of correct answers.

This score is reflected on a scale of  0-600 and it’s called the “SOL Scaled Score”.

The minimum scaled score to “pass” the test is 400.  So let’s see what a “pass rate” is: Continue Reading…

Best Fairfax County Schools: The VIP Awards

Jason and his family are moving to Fairfax County this coming school year, and Jason’s parents want to make sure that he attends the best schools in Fairfax County and is as challenged as possible throughout his school experience.

Kids earn Academic Performance Awards

Virginia Schools also earn Academic Performance Awards

Jason is currently in elementary school, so his parents want to make sure that he has the opportunity to go to a top elementary school, in a couple of years attend a top middle school, and further down the road a top high school.

For this, they would like to know which are the best schools in Fairfax County, VA.  And they figured that the Virginia Department of Education would have a list of its best schools, and specifically for their needs, the best ones in Fairfax County.

Which are the best schools in Virginia?

Continue Reading…

Fairfax County Middle School Rankings

Middle school is a very important time for many kids: it is a major change in their educational lives.

Middle School students learning science

Middle School students having fun while learning science

Suddenly, as soon as they enter middle school, they have transitioned from being young children to being “responsible” students in charge of their own lives at school (well, at least their schedule and their homework…).

In middle school, students are exposed to many more fun activities, sports, and are given plenty of opportunities to develop their own interests.

In Middle School, academics are very important

Also, in middle school, academics become even more important than in elementary school

For example, to apply for the highly-competitive Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST)*, one of the criteria is to have a high GPA in 7th grade (most middle schools in the Fairfax County Public Schools district only cover 7th and 8th grade).

Speaking of good academics, one way to rank the middle schools in Fairfax County is to compare their SOL passing rates**: Continue Reading…

The Top 3 Readers’ Choice Articles of 2013

Where did the year go?

It’s the end of 2013 and we’re excited to share with you the top 3 articles that were of most interest to you, our readers.

Here are the top 3 “most read” articles (by number of page views).  You’ll want to enjoy them again, so here they are:

Fairfax County High Schools: The Ultimate Ranking ©

Fairfax County School RankingsThis article contains a table with the compilation of 3 different rankings, and an overall ranking assigned to each high school (The Ultimate Ranking ©)

From this table, it is clear that Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is a superb school, which is why perhaps another popular article is this: Continue Reading…

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