Virginia's Implementation of Web-based High-stakes Testing in Public Education

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Virginia Tech


The purpose of this study was to investigate how online testing was implemented within a statewide high-stakes testing program in Virginia's public education system. Virginia's state assessments, known as the Standards of Learning (SOL) tests, were first administered to public school students in 1998 as paper-and-pencil, multiple-choice tests where students used a paper test booklet, an optical scan paper answer document, and a #2 pencil to complete each test. In 2000, at the direction of the Governor and General Assembly of the Commonwealth, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) introduced a technology initiative where, upon successful implementation, students would be able to complete their required SOL tests electronically via the Internet.

The researcher, an employee of the VDOE with direct involvement in the implementation of online testing, conducted a participant-observer case study and interviewed individuals closely associated with the Virginia Web-based Standards of Learning Technology Initiative. The interview transcripts, project documents, and experiences of the researcher as a participant-observer were used as the primary data sources. Glaser and Strauss's (1967) constant comparative method with suggested procedural additions from Lincoln and Guba (1985) and Maykut and Morehouse (1994), was applied in data analysis.

The findings are presented as a monograph with the history and implementation of Virginia's Web-based Standards of Learning Technology Initiative detailed by the participant-observer researcher. The desired outcomes of the researcher's efforts are (a) informing others of Virginia's experiences, including its successes and failures, (b) sharing the lessons learned throughout the implementation of Virginia's Web-based SOL Technology Initiative, and (c) identifying best practices that could be transferable to other state or local organizations attempting similar large-scale initiatives.



Web-based, Online, Assessment, Standards of Learning, High-stakes, Testing, Virginia, Statewide