SOL Conversion Chart Changed at Buckingham County High

Published 2:58 pm Thursday, January 8, 2015

BUCKINGHAM — This semester, high school students in Buckingham will see a new, updated Standards of Learning (SOL) conversion chart used to determine their exam grade based on their SOL test score.

The changes to the conversion chart result in less letter grade points being given to a student in certain SOL scoring categories. For example, last semester if a student scored between a 400 and 409 on an SOL test, she received an 87 as an exam/test score, which is a B. With the change, if a student scores within the same range on the SOL test, she receives an 80, which is a C.

Under the previous chart, if a student scored between a 390 and 399 on the SOL test, which results in failing the SOL test, the student receives an 80 exam grade, which is a C. With the same score using the new chart, the student would receive a 64, an F.

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A 400 is the minimum score a student needs to pass the SOL test, while a 600 is a perfect score.

“There was a conversion chart that if a student scored a certain score on the standards of learning [test] at the high school, then they were rewarded an incentive with some type of a score on a test or exam…in terms of A, B, C, D, or F…” detailed Division Superintendent Dr. Cecil Snead during a recent school board meeting. “Mr. [Rudolph] Roethel [high school principal] and his staff said they’d really like to change it for the current times, being that there’s more emphasis being placed on the [SOL] than when this chart originally was put in place.”

Snead noted that SOL test score conversions should align with the actual grade the students receive. “And so, this is one step which would take us closer to that.”

Roethel related to Snead and the school board, “We spent quite a bit of time going through stuff, and discussing what would be…in the best interest of our students…And I think this is the next logical step as we continue to try and meet a higher level of expectations.”

The bearded principal said that the past SOL conversion chart was “rather generous.”

Regarding students achieving a 400 on the SOL, Roethel noted, “So, what we’re saying is that the minimum that you need to pass an SOL in the current chart…which, if you think about the minimum in this case, would be 70 percent…We’re, in fact, giving 17 points higher and it would actually be a B.”

He cited that the B letter grade in getting a 400 SOL score “is not necessarily a true incentive for a child to go ahead and to do their best…”

“What we discovered…if a student does not pass the SOL, [they are] still going to go ahead and potentially pass the course, which is fine. We want them to pass the course…By realigning this to a more mathematically-useful formula, what we’ll be able to do is say…‘You do need to pass the SOL.’ The SOL for our core classes is their final exam…We’re bringing it into a little more academic line, and, again, promoting a level of expectation,” Roethel offered, noting that he believed the students would rise to the new levels of expectations with the changes in letter grade conversions.

“Even if a student does get below a 400 and does take the retake, whatever he or she gets on the retake is the…numeric value that we’ll adjust for them.”

Lisha Robinson, the division’s instructional coordinator, noted that the middle school is “very interested in looking at” the new conversion chart.

“…This doesn’t need to be an action item, rather it’s an information item…” Snead said, preceding Roethel’s comment that he would implement the new conversion chart after Christmas at the start of the new semester.

Coursework Changes

In addition to the SOL scores conversion chart change, school board members heard from Roethel on planned coursework changes regarding science and math that would take effect during the 2015-2016 school year.

“How are we going to increase rigor to more align to what we’re testing our students on, and better position them for…post-high life?…How would we change our course work to make it more rigorous?” questioned Snead before Roethel introduced the matter.

According to Roethel, the high school administration and teachers are looking at and changing certain course designations. He proposed creating single-semester, fast-paced Algebra I and Algebra II courses that would come with an honors reclassification. “These are courses that are done in 90 minutes, a single semester. Zoom.”

“We’re looking at each individual course,” Roethel noted, adding that the high school currently has honors geometry.

“There are projects [in that honors geometry course],” he noted. “As we continue to move forward with critical thinking, and relatedness and relevancy, in our courses…we’re saying ‘How do we implement rigor into a math course that’s already pretty rigorous?’ Well, we found a way. We found a way that’s going to benefit the students…One of those ways is individual research projects…It is actually critical-thinking development of projects…”

Roethel also wants to take one of the offered chemistry courses and reclassify it as an honors course.

“[It’s a] very demanding course [that’s] already rather rigorous…I want to take it one step higher,” he said, noting that an experimental level would be added to the course. “It does not require any additional staff at this point,” he stated.

Roethel says he wanted the courses to be deeper, “and we’ve got breadth already. Let’s go a little deeper…”