Henrico School Board called to support SOL test reform

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - The call to reform Virginia's SOL testing is getting support from school boards across the Commonwealth.

School boards are being asked to back up major changes, including students taking fewer SOL tests. The Republican-backed bill is working its way through the General Assembly. The issue is also going before the Henrico School Board this week.

SOL testing is the time of year that many people in the education community don't always look forward to.

"I think it's a good thing in some areas, but there's a lot of pressure on the students as well," said Monica Dellamar, a parent.

"I feel like, in my kid's classroom, they teach mostly to that test," said Catherine James, a parent.

The Virginia Association Of School Superintendents is issuing a resolution to modify the Standards of Learning system.

It list fourteen points. Examples include the resolution saying, "…the over reliance on standardized, high stakes testing as the only assessment of learning that really matters in the state and federal accountability systems is strangling our public schools."

Another point says, "…there is little research  that by taking the tests…students will be better prepared to succeed in careers and college."

Also, "…imposing relentless test preparation and boring memorization of facts to enhance test performance is stealing the love of learning from our students."

"We're exceeding the nation's averages and we're on an upward trend," said David Foster, the president of the Virginia Board of Education. He doesn't agree with several points on the resolution. "We're moving towards SOLs that more and more require problem solving and critical thinking skills, they're not just multiple choice [questions]."

Foster says research shows there's a direct correlation between tougher SOL standards and Virginia students doing better than the national average in math and reading.

"They're being challenged, they're learning more and they're going to do better," he said.

NBC12 education analyst Dr. Bill Bosher says there's room to reduce the number of tests, but he said, "Keep accountability, satisfy federal requirements and make sure we don't compromise young people's achievements."

The Henrico School Board will discuss and take action on this resolution on Thursday.

VASS says New Kent, Goochland and Powhatan counties have joined 55 other school systems that support this resolution.

Any changes to the actual SOL testing system would be up to state lawmakers.

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