RVA parents discuss opting children out of SOL tests

Published: May. 15, 2014 at 4:28 AM EDT|Updated: May. 23, 2014 at 3:36 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Parents across the nation are trying to stop their children from taking standardized state tests. That movement is surfacing in Richmond. Parents across RVA are considering opting their child out of taking the SOL test.

The groups RVA Opt Out and Richmond Teachers for Social Justice hosted a meeting for parents Monday evening. Concerns were shared that the focus in the classroom has turned to simply acing a standardized test. Those opposed to SOL tests fear creativity is being drained from teaching, and that children aren't understanding the concepts behind the questions.

It is possible to keep your child from taking SOL tests. Even though schools are required to give the exams, parents can choose to remove their children.

"Schools are mandated by the state, and mandated federally to (administer the tests). But parents are not mandated (to allow their children to take the test)," said Victoria Carll, part of RVA Opt Out.

Carll is a longtime teacher and parent, who decided to keep her child from taking any standardized tests. Carll believes the exams are crippling true learning in the classroom. "(The exams create) a curriculum, an environment where students are taught to the test. They're drilled information."

Henrico parent George Bayer says he sees the same pattern in his child's elementary school.

"It's hamstringing our teachers. They can't really teach the lessons in a way that the children are really able to understand the concepts. They're just being taught to take this test," added Bayer.

The Virginia Department of Education's spokesperson, Charles Pyle, says SOL tests are critical to assessing student learning and performance, for parents and officials.

"The state looks at the information from the SOL tests to identify schools that need assistance," said Pyle.

Schools can also lose points towards accreditation, if students skip the exam.

"That's not my concern as a parent. My concern is that our children are being educated properly to the best that we can do," continued Bayer.

Virginia students take about five SOL tests a year. RVA Opt Out plans to meet again, Monday, May 19th, at 6 p.m. at the Unity of Richmond Church, to raise more awareness about its position against SOL testing.

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