RD98 - SOL (Standards of Learning) Innovation Committee Fall 2017 Report

Executive Summary:

Established in Virginia Code in 2014, the SOL Innovation Committee has fulfilled its legislative mandate over the past three years to make “recommendations to the Board of Education and the General Assembly on (a) the Standards of Learning assessments, (b) authentic individual student growth measures, (c) alignment between the Standards of Learning and assessments and the School Performance Report Card, and (d) ideas on innovative teaching in the classroom." This has been achieved by convening a variety of issue-specific subcommittees and regularly publishing recommendations and reports, including reports in 2014, 2015, and early in 2017.

The work of the Committee has largely centered on the need for Virginia to modernize its assessment and accreditation systems by reducing “reliance on traditional standardized tests and instead be guided by an innovative and broad set of learning outcomes that prepare all students for success in college, in careers, and as engaged and enlightened citizens" (Committee Beliefs, 2015 Report, P.5). The Committee has sought to build on the Commonwealth’s history of rigorous accountability by fostering innovation and modernization while simultaneously holding students and schools accountable for a broad set of student outcomes relevant to the needs of our modern economy. In its first year, the Committee formed an assessment subcommittee and an accreditation subcommittee to independently make recommendations to policy makers for immediate changes. The following year, the subcommittees combined to design a balanced assessment system that linked to a multi-metric accreditation plan and a set of coordinated supports for school improvement.

Building on that history, the SOL Committee created two new subcommittees in the spring of 2017. The first was charged with looking at the progress made to date on high school redesign, and bringing forward additional recommendations to ensure all Virginia students have an experience in grades nine through twelve that prepares them to succeed in a rapidly changing economy. The second, a continuation of previous subcommittees focused on Virginia’s assessment system, was charged with making recommendations to better achieve the balanced assessment system the Committee has promoted.

This 2017 Report is the result of the work of these two subcommittees, which met numerous times throughout the year to bring forward recommendations for policymakers to consider as they seek to drive and sustain a public education system that prepares all our students for success in post-secondary education, the workforce, and participation as productive citizens. At the core of the work of both subcommittees is a desire to see the “5Cs" – Communication, Collaboration, Citizenship, Critical Thinking and Creativity – embedded in all academic curriculum, instruction and assessment. Such reform can lead to a truly redesigned educational experience for students and teachers, one that fosters their love of learning, and prepares them for any post-secondary path; such reform similarly meets, and maintains the need for rigorous state accountability.

The full SOL Committee met on October 10, 2017 to collectively consider the subcommittees’ recommendations. Per the Committee’s authorizing language, only those recommendations endorsed by majorities of both citizen and legislative members present were advanced to the Board of Education. Of the 19 recommendations put forward, 12 were unanimously approved and adopted. Despite unanimous support from the committee’s citizen members and two legislators, the remaining seven recommendations failed to advance as the result of opposition from four legislators.

This report includes a comprehensive list of all 19 recommendations advanced by the two subcommittees, and indicates which recommendations were formally advanced to the Board of Education.