A recent statewide poll conducted by the Commonwealth
Educational Policy Institute in the Wilder School at VCU found that 63% of
Virginians believe that SOL testing is putting too much pressure on students…
but 62% feel that the SOL program holds schools accountable.
Here in lies the
dichotomy that confronts the General Assembly. While the Governor and
Republican Caucus of the House seem to agree, the challenge now is to
change…but not to change.
Perhaps there are too many state tests and the
argument could easily be made to focus on reading and math…eliminating tests in
science and the social sciences (history). However, 54% of Virginians believe
that "SOLs improve student achievement"… the number who disagreed increased by
16% since 2002.
Also interesting is that a majority of minorities felt that
testing has benefited students while 7 out of 10 women responded that testing
puts too much pressure on children. The SOL program was created in 1995 with
four components: standards, assessment, report cards, and consequences.
Statewide testing had been done for decades
with little consternation. The difference is consequences.
Most of us support
speed limits, and we don't mind being stopped and reminded that we are going too
fast. It is the ticket…court, fines, driving school, and potentially losing our
license that we don't like.
The General Assembly and Governor must now try to
find a way to change the educational accountability system without simply
altering the instrument by which it is judged.