SATs, SOLs -- Which are More Misleading in Richmond? 

The recent fuss over how the Richmond Public Schools report their SAT scores isn't the first time the system has been criticized for how it presents test results.

The Standards of Learning exam scores from Maggie L. Walker Governor's School, which attracts high-performing students from across the region, are reported in the averages of what's supposed to be the students' home schools.

That means that the results of a Maggie Walker student who regularly would attend Henrico High School would be reported back to that school and included in its averages. It also means that the scores of Richmond students who regularly would attend Thomas Jefferson High School but who instead attended private schools before being admitted to Maggie Walker would be included in Jefferson's results.

Governor's schools such as Maggie Walker and Appomattox Regional in Petersburg operate under an agreement that dictates how their SOL test results are reported, says Virginia Department of Education spokesman Charles Pyle. Unlike the SAT Reasoning Test, a college-preparedness exam administered by the College Board, the state issues the SOLs to pupils as an ongoing measuring tool, from kindergarten through 12th grade.

While it's not too difficult for parents to see how including Maggie Walker's SAT results boosts the Richmond Public Schools' averages, parents can't determine from either the schools' website or the state report card how Maggie Walker's SOL pass rates affect city school data.

Pyle says the SOL scores' allocation isn't an attempt to mislead the public. "Yes, it is confusing," he says. "I will certainly admit to that."

That doesn't wash with critics such as Carol Wolf, a former Richmond School Board member who's urged the state to report Maggie Walker's scores separately. "It's absolutely dishonest," she says.

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