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Southwest Virginia students test new SOL method

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ROANOKE COUNTY, VA - Some schools in our area are testing a new SOL test. It's called computer adaptive testing or CAT.

1500 eighth graders will be part of it.  17 school divisions including Roanoke City, Botetourt County, Alleghany County, Franklin County and Montgomery County are included.

The students will take the traditional SOL reading test first and then take the new CAT.

Here's how it works. Students answer a series of questions and depending on how they do the computer can select the next item based on the student's response.

"It provides a better experience to someone who might be struggling. It can potentially shorten the test if a child's knocking it out of the park, they can realize this child's got it and cut it off," said Ben Williams, the Roanoke County Associate Director of Testing and Remediation.

Another benefit is improved security since students in the same test session are responding to different items

The Virginia Department of Education says they did a similar test with math earlier this year. We're told they got through the test faster and that was what they wanted.

The plan is to start the new CAT testing for some middle school math next year and then eventually transition over all of the tests as money becomes available.

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