School Board and Legislators Talk SOL's

December 3, 2013

Standards of Learning tests were a hot topic in the meeting between legislators and school board members.

The state Department of Education implements the standards set by the Board of Education, and that includes the exams.

At the heart of the issue for Albemarle school leaders is the feeling that the tests aren't challenging enough, and that they don't prepare students for the skills they need in the workforce.

School Board Chair Steve Koleszar says the current assessments are mostly multiple choice and they are done that way because they are cheap and easy to grade.

"We are measuring things that are easy to measure not the things that we should be measuring. We want our kids to be able to function in the 21st century."

School board member Diantha McKeel says the county has tried to opt out in the past but not been allowed to do it.

"They've not been willing to allow us to opt out. We had a little discussion about that…but it seems like from what the legislators are telling us today that there is some momentum by the General Assembly going into the session to look at a different format."

The school board has been piloting with freshman and seniors the College and Workforce Readiness Assessment, a test that focuses more on critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communications.

In last year's General Assembly session, Delegate David Toscano introduced a resolution requesting a study of alternatives to the SOL but that resolution failed to make it out of committee.

Delegate Rob Bell says it is worth exploring whether or not there is an alternative that would better suit Albemarle while making sure students don't slip through the cracks but he is not a fan of getting rid of the testing entirely.

This year, the County School board is hoping again that their representatives will go to Richmond and voice their unhappiness with the current testing.

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