By: Bill Bosher
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.