Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Education
State Board of Education
Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia [8 VAC 20 ‑ 131]
Action Comprehensive review of the Standards of Accreditation
Stage Proposed
Comment Period Ended on 10/6/2017
Previous Comment     Back to List of Comments
9/20/17  7:41 pm
Commenter: Michael Shipley

What are we really testing?

As a former Virginia student who remembers taking SOL's growing up and now a father who has a daughter that this regulation might effect, I felt a need to comment. I strongly support changing the current system of SOL testing that we use to evaluate our students. Not only is it an extremely stressful and linear way to evaluate student comprehension, it also doesn't gauge the whole student. 

The purpose of schools is to help develop active citizens who will work together to help move our society as a whole forward. By choosing to evaluate how "successful" our schools are at doing that, we choose to use an outdated method of testing basic memorization of facts, as well as other methods in subjects such as math. This doesn't do the students justice of seeing them as a whole citizen, and too narrowly focuses how we gauge them. We must do better. Plenty of successful adults can attest that they were bad test takers in school, but proved that they were extremely capable in other areas that contributed to their overall success. 

And then there are the teachers. We force our teachers to teach to the test and not the full development of the student. This again narrows our focus to only achieve basic goals that don't properly evaluate the student. It has already been seen around the country that this pressure to have students score highly has tempted teachers to find ways to "cheat" the system, such as having students they know won't perform well not take the test. In fear of losing funding by not performing well, they find ways to excuse these students. What kind of system do we have where we punish schools that perform poorly by taking resources away, thus restricting their ability to perform better on future tests? The system seems backward.

No matter what direction is taken, I just encourage those involved to take a strong look at the students and teachers who this effects. Are we meeting our end goals of producing better-contributing citizens this way? Or do we maybe need to go in a new direction?

CommentID: 62816