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Re: “Opting Out

How can standardized testing improve learning? It doesn't. It detracts from it. Finland, widely regarded as the best education system in the world, uses no standardized testing. But it has small class sizes, pays teachers well so they don't have to take on a second job, provides more resources to struggling schools rather than cutting their funding - the exact opposite of what we do in this county. And testing is not an economical way to "fix" schools - and our students from upper income and affluent backgrounds score at the highest level internationally so not all schools are struggling. Buying these end of course tests, the preparation materials, and benchmark tests from Pearson is not cheap. Also, each school ends up having to hire a full time specialist to coordinate the testing and ensure compliance with state regulations. Imagine what we could do with that money if we could buy books or lab equipment that can be used for multiple years, not just one, and if we could hire an extra reading specialist instead of a testing coordinator. Testing is big business. Don't let the rhetoric fool you, this is as much about $ as it is about "accountability."

20 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by smc on 06/06/2014 at 1:42 PM

Re: “Opting Out

Carsonks - that's a very legitimate concern. Please tell your school board member about it! School boards have some leeway in awarding "verified credits" based on coursework. This is usually reserved for students who don't pass the SOL but do well in the course, so ask if that could be an option for your child. Also, the VA Department of Education has approved some alternative tests for the SOL such as parts of the ACT. If your child plans to take the ACT anyway, that could be a better option than the SOL, but it's still a standardized test and that one costs money.

As a former hs teacher I can tell you the department of Education (made up of appointees by the governor and NOT educators) doesn't care what teachers have to say, but its members do care about what parents think. Also, write to your delegate and senator because they are the ones who can change the laws about the SOLs. This past year they reduced the number of tests from 22 to 17 because of constituents' complaints. That's a start but not enough.

10 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by smc on 06/06/2014 at 11:38 AM

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