Virginia's SOL Testing.

Virginia's SOL Testing.

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     The abbreviation SOL stands for, Standards of Learning. The Standards of Learning is a test that was devised in the spring of 1998 to provide information on the progress of students toward meeting achievement levels. To me as a citizen of Virginia, and as a student, I think this test is a burden on most students in all grade levels, and should be eliminated. Because first, the number of tests being administered to student each year is outrageous, second, the penalties a student has to face for failing are too harsh, and third, it puts the school in jeopardy of losing its accreditation which is a no win situation.

Virginia’s Standards of Learning has come under much criticism over the past couple of years, and I for one think it deserves to be criticized. Each year student in every school district across America have to take two or more test such as, the (LPT) Literacy Passport Test, the Stanford-9 exam or the (SOL) Standards of Learning, depending on the grade level. In two out of these three tests, students are required to pass in order to graduate, and judging by last years test scores, most students future would be endangered if they are unable to bring there score up. This has led to the question, “are we testing our students too much”? This question was bought up at a General Assembly meeting in March of 2000, the Virginia Board of Education responded by saying they would move the Stanford-9 exam from the spring to the fall, so it would not interfere with the spring SOL tests. But this still is not enough for me, because all of these tests are designed to do one thing, and that is to evaluate a student’s comprehensive knowledge of a certain subject. So what I don’t get is, why do a student have to take two or more test a year just to evaluate his understanding of a certain subject.

     Since this test has been devised, the number one question everybody is asking is, “ isn’t it unfair to base a student’s entire future on one test, when he or she simply could have had a bad day when taking the test”? The president Kirk T. Schroder of the Virginia Board of Education, answer this question by saying, “First of all, these tests are untimed, so no student is under arbitrary time pressure in taking the test.

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Secondly, we allow a student repeated opportunities to take a failed test over, if he or she needs the test to graduate”. This is a good idea, but I think regardless of the time span, the student could simply not know most of the answers. This could be due to the amount of time the teacher spend going over this lesson, the student failing to pay attention in class, or in some cases the teacher maybe didn’t have the proper material to go over the lesson. So I think regardless of time, this test should still be eliminated.

     Besides the student’s entire future being based on this test, the school is also in jeopardy of losing its accreditation. This mean if students at a particular school keep coming up with low percentages, some teachers could get laid off or the school could be shut down, but Governor Gilmore said, “no school can lose its accreditation until 2007, eight years from now. So there is plenty of time for schools to get their students’ achievement levels up”. To me this is not a good idea, for one where will all the students go if the school is shut down, and if they do find another school to go too, it would just bring that school’s scores down. So to me anyway you look at it, it is a no win situation.

     The Virginia Standards of Learning purpose suppose to be to provide information on student’s progress towards meeting achievement level, but after carefully reviewing this test, it is just like the other tests. I think I speak for all students when I say the SOL’s are just dead weight to students and their schools. The Virginia Board of Education would be doing everybody a favor if it just eliminate this test all together, because there are already enough tests to evaluate the student’s comprehensive knowledge.
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