According to the VDOE, the core curriculum is defined as “The body of knowledge that all students are expected to learn in the subjects of English, mathematics, history/social science and science.”²

Defining The Virginia Core Curriculum

In the realm of education, a well-defined curriculum serves as a guide to academic success. For Virginia’s public schools, this is the Standards of Learning (SOL)¹, a comprehensive framework that encapsulates the commonwealth’s expectations for student learning and achievement from kindergarten through 12th grade.

At the heart of the SOL lies the “core curriculum,” a robust body of knowledge that forms the foundation of every student’s educational journey. This essential curriculum encompasses four key subjects: English, Mathematics, History/Social Science, and Science². These subjects are deemed crucial for students to master, as they lay the groundwork for future learning and personal growth.

While the core curriculum forms the backbone of Virginia’s educational system, it is complemented by a rich array of additional subjects that enhance and expand upon the core, providing students with a well-rounded education that prepares them for success in an ever-changing world.

The following are Virginia’s SOL subjects (excluding the core curriculum):

  • Computer Science
  • Digital Learning Integration
  • Driver Education
  • Economics & Personal Finance
  • Family Life Education
  • Fine Arts
  • Health Education
  • Physical Education
  • World Languages.

The Virginia Board of Education first adopted the Standards of Learning (SOLs) in 1995 to provide a framework for educational objectives across various subjects. Although the SOLs were implemented in 1995, it wasn’t until 1998 that the SOL tests were field-tested, and passing scores were established. From 1998 to 2001, there was a significant increase in passing rates, indicating a positive impact on student achievement. In 2000, the Board of Education adopted the SOL Technology Standards, outlining expectations for students’ knowledge and abilities related to technology. The SOLs have undergone multiple revisions since their initial adoption, with notable updates in 2001, 2008, 2015, and most recently in 2023. Despite improvements in student performance, the SOLs have faced controversies and challenges related to field testing, accountability measures, and their impact on teaching and learning.

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and the Virginia Board of Education develop and release the Standards of Learning (SOLs) to establish a comprehensive framework for instruction in Virginia’s public schools. The SOLs are constructed through a collaborative process involving input from various stakeholders, including parents, teachers, administrators, and representatives from higher education and state organizations. The standards are designed to be developmentally appropriate, vertically coherent across grade levels, and to emphasize conceptual understanding, procedural knowledge, and real-world applications of concepts. The primary purpose of the SOLs is to set clear expectations for student learning and achievement at each grade level, ensuring consistency in education across the state and preparing students for success in higher education and future careers. The SOLs are reviewed and revised on a regular basis to maintain their rigor, relevance, and alignment with the needs of students, educators, and the workforce.

As Virginia continues to prioritize educational excellence, the core curriculum remains a vital component of student learning and achievement. By focusing on these fundamental subjects and providing students with a solid foundation of knowledge and skills, we can inspire a generation of critical thinkers, effective communicators, and engaged citizens, ready to tackle the challenges of the 21st century and beyond.

At Commonwealth Tutoring, we recognize the importance of the core curriculum in shaping the minds and futures of Virginia’s students. Our dedicated team of educators is committed to supporting students in mastering these essential subjects, empowering them to reach their full potential and thrive in their academic pursuits. Through personalized, high-impact tutoring, we partner with families to ensure that every student has the tools, resources, and guidance they need to excel in the core curriculum and beyond.

If you are searching for a 100% virtual tutor for your K-12 student, book a discovery call today.


Virginia Department of Education. “K-12 Standards & Instruction.” Available at:[1].

Virginia Department of Education. “Glossary of Education Terms.” Available at:[2].

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *