Education Editorial: SOL Testing

With the release of Virginia's SOL test results, there are the anticipated debates about who did well and who didn't.  For some school divisions, very little analysis is required, because the performance of students, and subsequently schools, is consistently poor.

The responses that follow are predictable but not in any order: student performance is unacceptable, we will do better next year, we have good people, our students are different, and the annual bell ringer, we do not have enough money.

There is a new cry that is growing and, at times, where it would not be anticipated…our students are tested too much!

A recent national survey indicated that a majority of respondents thought that there is more testing in schools than is necessary. While the number, form, and content of tests is reasonable for debate, the underlying issue, whether or not students should be tested, seems to be common sense.

As stated before through this forum, people generally support standards for students…they just don't like tests. However, standards without tests are suggestions. It is the notion that we should have expectations for ethics, behavior and even mastery of skills and knowledge but without accountability.

Maybe the best way to deal with weight is to avoid the scales…I like it!

While the debate over testing rages, let's not tell students and teachers that progress is not important or that prescriptions should come before diagnosis…testing. For student achievement, knowing where you are is just as important as knowing that you have arrived.