SOL Results Continue to Improve

80% of Schools Met Accreditation Standards

More than eight out of 10 Virginia schools met state accreditation standards this year, continuing an improving trend since the Standards of Learning tests were implemented in 1998.

Students in 1,514 of the state's 1,807 schools, about 84 percent, met or exceeded the target passing rates on English, history, math and science tests, compared with 78 percent last year and 65 percent in 2002. The exams are given to students in grades 3, 5 and 8 and high school.

In Fairfax, Prince William and Arlington counties, more schools were accredited this year than last, and all the schools in Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park and in Stafford and Loudoun counties were accredited.

Va. Joins E-ZPass Toll-Taking System

Drivers Can Use Transponders in Several States

Virginia became the latest state to link its electronic toll collection system to E-ZPass, allowing drivers with the appropriate transponder to use express toll lanes on many East Coast highways.

The new arrangement allows Virginia's 495,000 Smart Tag users to travel through electronic tolls from Virginia to Massachusetts, in West Virginia and soon in New Hampshire, Maine and Illinois. Likewise, drivers who have E-ZPass can now use it on the Dulles Toll Road, the Dulles Greenway and Virginia's five other toll facilities.

Malvo Pleads Guilty in Spotsylvania

Sniper Will Spend Rest of Life in Prison

Lee Boyd Malvo pleaded guilty to two sniper shootings in Spotsylvania County and agreed to drop his pending appeals, ensuring that he will spend the rest of his life in prison.

During a brief hearing, Malvo admitted that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him in the fatal shooting of Kenneth Bridges and the wounding of Caroline Seawell during the October 2002 shootings.

Spotsylvania Commonwealth's Attorney William F. Neely said he chose not to seek the death penalty against Malvo because the plea brings certainty to the victims, because the cost of a capital prosecution would be prohibitive and because he did not think a county jury would order the execution of Malvo, who was a juvenile when the shootings occurred.

Connolly Not Guilty in Hit-and-Run

Fairfax Chairman Was Involved in Fender Bender

A judge found Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald E. Connolly (D) not guilty of a hit-and-run charge, saying prosecutors failed to prove that he knowingly fled the scene of a fender bender near Tysons Corner last spring.

Some Day Laborers Face Deportation

11 of 24 Arrested Could Not Prove Identity

Nearly a dozen Latino day laborers who were among a group arrested outside a Woodbridge 7-Eleven store face deportation.

Police said the arrest of 24 men looking for work was intended as a crackdown on loitering. The charge carries a $100 fine. But the penalty became more severe for 11 of the workers, who could not prove their identity and were transferred to federal custody. They have been put in an adult detention center in Manassas and face deportation.

Across the Region

Pedestrian Access for Fans; Flu Shots for Feds

* Starting Nov. 14, Washington Redskins fans will again be able to walk to FedEx Field, after a Prince George's County panel lifted restrictions on pedestrian access that had been in place for most of four years.

* Thousands of federal workers will be able to get free flu shots at their agencies this week if they fall into a high-risk category.

Course of history: Spectators watch the progress of the USS Constellation, an 1854 sailing ship that was towed last week from Baltimore to Annapolis, where it was open to the public for tours.