Virginia’s Board of Education officially adopted the 2024 ELA SOLs in March 2024. While these new SOLs bring changes you should be aware of, I have found the changes to be much more minor compared to other SOL revisions in recent years. (looking at you, math and science!)

In this blog post for Virginia teachers, you’ll find the reason for the changes, resources to help you teach the 2024 ELA SOLs, and a list of the biggest changes to the upper elementary SOLs.

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Why Change the ELA SOLs?

You may be wondering, why change the ELA SOLs? It may be tempting to think the VDOE is only changing the SOLs to make teachers’ lives more difficult (especially with new math and social studies SOLs also being implemented this school year). But, this is not the case!

The VDOE is required to periodically update the Standards of Learning (SOLs). By law, the VDOE must review and revise its standards every seven years. So, the ELA SOLs were due for an update.

You may also be wondering why the VDOE decided to update the ELA, math, and social studies SOLs at the same time. There are a few reasons.

First, the revision of some SOLs was delayed due to the COVID pandemic. Then, the VDOE expedited the English Standards of Learning revision process to help more students reach grade-level proficiency in reading. All of these factors led to new SOLs for three out of the four core subjects being implemented at the same time.

Resources to Help with New Virginia Standards

In addition to the information provided on the ELA section of the VDOE website, I have also created the Virginia Teacher’s Guide to the 2024 ELA SOLs. In the guide, you’ll find:

  • Information about the new organizational system for the 2024 ELA EOLs.
  • A detailed breakdown of every SOL for grades 3, 4, and 5.
  • A summary and important information about each standard.

The guide includes a side-by-side comparison of every SOL, comparing the 2017 and 2024 SOLs. Next to the SOLs, you’ll find a list that breaks down the new additions to the standard, things that were removed, and other important changes to be aware of.

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You shouldn’t have to spend hours of your time cross-examining the ELA SOLs. I’ve already done it for you so that you can get back to what’s really important… being with your students during contract hours and enjoying your life outside of contract hours.

You can download the Virginia Teacher’s Guide to the 2024 ELA SOLs HERE!

Timeline for Implementation

I’ve heard different things about the 2024 ELA SOLs timeline implementation. With so many different timelines floating around, I went directly to the source… the Direction of English Literacy at the VDOE. When asking about the timeline, I received the following response:

“In order to be in alignment with the Virginia Literacy Act, the 2024 English Standards of Learning will be instructionally implemented in the 2024-2025 academic year. It remains to be determined when the assessments will be updated to reflect the new standards.”

New Organization for the 2024 ELA SOLs

One of the first things you will notice as you begin analyzing the 2024 ELA SOLs is that they are organized differently from the previous version. Now, every grade level is broken into the following 10 categories.

  1. Foundations for Reading (FFR)
  2. Developing Skilled Readers and Building Stamina (DSR)
  3. Reading and Vocabulary (RV)
  4. Reading Literary Text (RL)
  5. Reading Informational Text (RI)
  6. Foundations for Writing (FFW)
  7. Writing (W)
  8. Language Usage (LU)
  9. Communication and Multimodal Literacies (C)
  10. Research (R)

Each category is further broken down into subcategories, which vary by grade level.

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An abbreviation of the category is used in the numbering of the SOLs. The new numbering system shows the grade level, the category, the subcategory (if there is one), and the standard within the category.

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Personally, I like this new organizational system. The categories make the SOLs easier to navigate and the consistency across grade levels will be helpful to teachers as they plan for instruction.

Biggest Changes to the ELA SOLs

In addition to the new organizational system and numbering, you will find other changes throughout the English Standards of Learning.

The 2024 ELA SOLs place a greater emphasis on foundational skills. Standards within categories such as Foundations for Reading, Developing Skilled Readers and Building Stamina, and Foundations for Writing ensure that students have fundamental skills (phonics, accuracy and fluency, handwriting, etc.) before moving on to comprehension and writing paragraphs.

The other changes made to the 2024 ELA SOLs are more specific to each grade level. Vestal’s 21st Century Classroom specializes in upper elementary (grades 3-5), so I have listed the major changes to those grade levels below. For each grade level, I have broken up the major differences by category (although not all categories are listed below for every grade level, only the categories where there are the most significant changes).

For a complete listing of the biggest changes to every standard by grade level, be sure to download my Virginia Teacher’s Guide to the 2024 ELA SOLs.

3rd Grade ELA SOLs

Some of the biggest changes to the 3rd-grade ELA SOLs include the following. You can find a complete list of changes in my 2024 ELA SOL guide.

Developing Skilled Readers and Building Reading Stamina (DSR):

3.DSR addresses skills students need to read more fluently, accurately, and purposefully.

  • The SOLs in this category provide specific reading strategies and encourage students to apply comprehension of what is read through discussion and writing.

Reading Literary Text (RL):

3.RL is related to the comprehension of fiction texts. The following skills have been added to this standard.

  • Describing character attributes and how characters are used to advance the plot.
  • Using sensory language.
  • Identifying the speaker of a poem.
  • Identifying characteristics of other genres.
  • Compare and contrast details from more than one text.

Reading Informational Text (RI):

3.RI is related to the comprehension of nonfiction texts. The following skills have been added to this standard.

  • When determining the main idea, students should be able to find the main idea of the passage and specific paragraphs.
  • Describing major structural differences between texts and how they support comprehension of the text.
  • Using text features and search tools.
  • Comparing and contrasting details from two texts.
  • Describing the connection between events, ideas, concepts, and/or steps.
  • Writing about what is read while using the text for support.

Language Usage (LU):

3.LU focuses on students’ using conventions of Standard English when speaking and writing (grammar skills). The following skills have been added to this standard.

  • Creating simple and compound sentences.
  • Distinguishing between complete and incomplete sentences.
  • Using regular and irregular verbs.
  • Using subject-verb agreement in sentences.
  • Eliminating double negatives.
  • Using commas in dates, addresses, and letters (in addition to in a series).
  • Capitalizing holidays, names, and places.

The following skills have been removed from this standard.

  • Using “I” in compound subjects.
  • Using simple abbreviations.
  • Using a, an, and the.
  • Indicating a paragraph by indenting or skipping a line.

4th Grade ELA SOLs

Some of the biggest changes to the 4th-grade ELA SOLs include the following. You can find a complete list of changes in my 2024 ELA SOL guide.

Foundations for Reading (FFR):

4.FFR is a new standard for fourth grade that focuses on phonics and word analysis.

Developing Skilled Readers and Building Reading Stamina (DSR):

4.DSR addresses skills students need to read more fluently, accurately, and purposefully.

  • The SOLs in this category provide specific reading strategies and encourage students to apply comprehension of what is read through discussion and writing.
  • Students are encouraged to read texts on the same topic or theme. Reading texts related to fourth-grade science and social studies topics is also encouraged.

Reading Literary Text (RL):

4.RL is related to the comprehension of fiction texts. The following skills have been added to this standard.

  • Identifying characteristics of different genres.
  • Differentiating between first- and third-person point of view.
  • Explaining the structure of stories, poems, and plays.

Reading Informational Text (RI):

4.RI is related to the comprehension of nonfiction texts. The following skills have been added to this standard.

  • When determining the main idea, students should be able to find the main idea of the passage and specific paragraphs.
  • Explaining how authors select an organizational pattern.
  • Comparing and contrasting more than one account of the same event.
  • Describing the connection between events, ideas, concepts, and/or steps.

Foundations for Writing (FFW):

4.FFW is a new standard for fourth grade that focuses on students successfully communicating their ideas in writing.

Writing (W):

4.W focuses on students’ ability to write in a variety of forms and for a variety of audiences. The following skills have been added to this standard.

  • Writing personal or fictional narratives that are organized around a problem or experience.
  • Writing in response to texts.
  • Providing a concluding statement or section.

The following changes have also been made to this standard.

  • “Descriptive” is no longer listed as one of the forms of writing students will use.
  • There is a greater emphasis on the organization of the writing.

Language Usage (LU):

4.LU focuses on students’ using conventions of Standard English when speaking and writing (grammar skills). The following skills have been added to this standard.

  • Using simple and compound sentences.
  • Using prepositional phrases.
  • Using conjunctions (coordinating and subordinating).
  • Using comparative adjectives.
  • Using modal words.
  • Commas should also be used correctly when writing letters (in addition to in a series, dates, and addresses).
  • Using apostrophes to form contractions (in addition to showing possession).
  • Using reference materials to check spelling.

The following skills have been removed from this standard.

  • Eliminating double negatives.
  • Using adverbs.

5th Grade ELA SOLs

Some of the biggest changes to the 5th-grade ELA SOLs include the following. You can find a complete list of changes in my 2024 ELA SOL guide.

Foundations for Reading (FFR):

5.FFR is a new standard for fifth grade that focuses on phonics and word analysis.

Developing Skilled Readers and Building Reading Stamina (DSR):

5.DSR addresses skills students need to read more fluently, accurately, and purposefully.

  • The SOLs in this category provide specific reading strategies and encourage students to apply comprehension of what is read through discussion and writing.
  • Students are encouraged to read texts on the same topic or theme. Reading texts related to fifth-grade science and social studies topics is also encouraged.

Reading Literary Text (RL):

5.RL is related to the comprehension of fiction texts. The following skills have been added to this standard.

  • Analyzing the author’s use of language and its impact on the story.
  • Analyzing the characteristics of a poem and the author’s use of patterns of sound.

Reading Informational Text (RI):

5.RI is related to the comprehension of nonfiction texts. The following skills have been added to this standard.

  • When determining the main idea, students should be able to find the main idea of the passage and specific paragraphs.
  • Using search tools to evaluate and gain information.
  • Determining the author’s purpose and how the author’s perspective influences the text.
  • Describing the connection between individuals, events, procedures, ideas, and/or concepts.

The following skills have been removed from the standard.

  • Differentiating between fact and opinion.

Foundations for Writing (FFW):

5.FFW is a new standard for fifth grade that focuses on students successfully communicating their ideas in writing.

Writing (W):

5.W focuses on students’ ability to write in a variety of forms and for a variety of audiences. The following skills have been added to this standard.

  • Writing personal or fictional narratives that are organized around a problem or experience.
  • Writing in response to texts.
  • Providing a concluding statement or section.

The following changes have also been made to this standard.

  • “Descriptive” is no longer listed as one of the forms of writing students will use.
  • There is a greater emphasis on the organization of the writing.

Language Usage (LU):

5.LU focuses on students’ using conventions of Standard English when speaking and writing (grammar skills). The following skills have been added to this standard.

  • Expanding, combining, and reducing sentences to make writing more meaningful and interesting.
  • Using adverbs (not just comparatively).
  • Using coordinating and subordinating conjunctions.
  • Maintaining consistent verb tense across paragraphs.
  • Using subject-verb agreement.
  • Using commas in compound sentences.
  • Using colons to separate hours and minutes and to introduce a list.
  • Using spelling patterns and generalizations.

The following skills have been removed from this standard.

  • Using plural possessives.
  • Using adjective comparisons.
  • Using commas to indicate interrupters, items in a series, and a direct address.
  • Editing for fragments and run-on sentences.
  • Eliminating double negatives.

SOL-Aligned ELA Resources

One of the most challenging parts of SOL changes is finding engaging resources aligned to the new SOLs. My store is packed with high-quality, SOL-aligned ELA resources that have been used by thousands of teachers across Virginia.

You can find all of my ELA resources HERE.

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All of my SOL-aligned ELA resources are also included in the Virginia Teacher Club® curriculum library. The Virginia Teacher Club® gives upper elementary teachers in Virginia instant access to a curriculum library of resources that are specifically aligned to the Virginia SOLs for every subject. All you have to do is click on the subject and SOL you are teaching to immediately download a variety of lesson plans, worksheets, games and centers, assessments, and much more.

Conclusion

The 2024 ELA SOLs present some big changes for future school years in Virginia. These changes will present an initial learning curve, but implementing the revised standards will get easier with time and by having the right resources to teach the standards. I hope this information provides you with some clarity on what to expect with these new SOLs.

P.S.- Don’t forget to download the Virginia Teacher’s Guide to the 2024 ELA SOLs for a more complete breakdown of the biggest changes made to each grade level.

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Looking for more information about the recent changes made to math and social studies SOLs? You can learn more about the new math SOLs HERE and more about the new social studies SOLs HERE.

Have you heard of the Virginia Teacher Club®? The Virginia Teacher Club® is a one-of-a-kind program for upper elementary teachers in Virginia. Members receive instant access to a curriculum library of SOL-aligned math, science, social studies, and ELA resources. There are lesson plans, games, assessments, passages, digital activities, and more for EVERY SOL. By using the Virginia Teacher Club®, our members save hours of planning time every month and have access to high-quality, SOL-aligned resources that students love.

CLICK HERE to join the waitlist and be the first to know when the Virginia Teacher Club® reopens for new members.