2.7 Billion and Counting…

Jefferson Lab offers free resources for STEM test prep through its science education website

Every spring, it’s a rite of passage for students all across the nation: standardized testing. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Standards of Learning (SOL) assessments are critical to the state's educational system, helping schools identify how their students are doing compared to their peers across the state.

For more than two decades, the U.S. Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility has been there to help students safely navigate their SOLs in subjects related to the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math. The tradition continues this year, as students have already begun to tap the free resources the lab provides to help them prepare for these annual assessments.

The SOL assessments are standardized, computer-adaptive tests administered to students in grades 3-8 and at the end of specific high school courses. They cover core subjects such as reading, writing, mathematics, science and history/social science. The tests evaluate students' mastery of the SOL, a set of rigorous academic standards established by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).

As the end of the academic year approaches, students across the Commonwealth study in their classrooms and at home to prepare for these upcoming tests. Jefferson Lab offers practice tests with questions from the VDOE as an additional resource.

"Many students struggle with test anxiety," said Steve Gagnon, Jefferson Lab science education administrator, acknowledging a common challenge students face during SOL assessments.

"One way to help relieve some of those feelings is to practice and create as much predictability as possible," said Gagnon.

Jefferson Lab's interactive website offers a variety of practice options, allowing students to familiarize themselves with the question types and formats they can expect to encounter on the actual assessments.

The lab's resources have had a significant impact on students. In April 2024 alone, the SOL quiz section of the website has had more than 25.4 million-page views. Since its implementation in November 2001, the SOL site has had more than 2.7 billion-page views.

As the SOL testing season approaches, educators, parents and students are encouraged to take advantage of these free resources. By providing practice tests and interactive learning tools, the lab is not only supporting student success on the assessments but also fostering greater confidence in and a love for science, technology and math.

The Jefferson Lab Science Education web page can be accessed at https://education.jlab.org.  

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