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The next steps in the SOL reform process

5/6/2014, 2:55 p.m.
Governor Terry McAuliffe has announced the next steps in the SOL reform process.

The process for the nomination and appointment of members to the Standards of Learning (SOL) Innovation Committee has been revealed. The 2014 General Assembly directed Secretary of Education Anne Holton to establish the committee as part of a package of reforms to the commonwealth’s assessment and accountability system. The committee’s charge is to recommend further reforms, in addition to an already-approved reduction in the number of required SOL tests.

“Innovation and accountability are critical components in building a public education system that meets the demands of a 21st Century economy,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe, who made the announcement. “The challenge for the SOL Innovation Committee will be to chart a course for reform that builds on the strengths of the current SOL system while creating more room for the rich, creative and innovative learning experiences that will prepare all Virginia students with the knowledge and tools they need to succeed in a global economy.”

As directed by the 2014 legislation, Secretary of Education Anne Holton is soliciting recommendations and nominations from statewide organizations representing parents, teachers, principals, school boards, superintendents and other stakeholders.

In addition, applications and nominations are being accepted from individuals interested in serving on the SOL Innovation Committee. Individuals can submit nominations and applications online by visiting the Gubernatorial Appointments page of the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website and following the directions. Applicants and nominators should select the Education Secretariat in applying or recommending someone for service on the SOL Innovation Committee. Applications and nominations will be accepted until May 23, 2014.

“My goal is to have the committee begin its important work this summer,” Secretary Holton said. “I look forward to working with a diverse group truly representative of the commonwealth and united by a desire to make our nationally regarded public schools even better.”

The SOL Innovation Committee also will include four members of the House of Delegates appointed by Speaker of the House William J. Howell and two members of the Senate appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules on the recommendation of Senate Committee on Education and Health Chairman L. Louise Lucas. Secretary Holton, Board of Education President Christian N. Braunlich (or his designee) and Superintendent of Public Instruction Steve Staples will serve as ex-officio members of the committee.

The reform legislation signed into law last month by Governor McAuliffe directs the SOL Innovation Committee to take a comprehensive look at the SOL assessments — including the computer adaptive tests now being piloted by the Virginia Department of Education — and related accountability and instructional issues and make recommendations to the Board of Education and General Assembly.