Schools fighting against harder SOLs


by Karen Hopkins

Posted on March 22, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 23 at 6:22 AM

RICHMOND - Superintendents from Hampton Roads went to Richmond Thursday to protest more difficult Standards of Learning tests.  

“What are we doing to students and teachers by jumping too high too quickly?” Virginia Beach Superintendent Dr. Jim Merrill said.

The Virginia Department of Education has made all math SOL tests more challenging this year. This includes grades 3-8 and all high school tests.

Gloucester County Superintendent Ben Kiser told the Board that students will fail the higher standards and that schools will then be labeled failures.

He cautioned parents will become concerned about schools losing their reputations.

High school students complained the algebra SOL takes more than 4 hours to finish, the questions are tricky and, when they're done, they feel mentally exhausted.

Another concern is students taking the math SOLs online.

“Any kid who doesn’t have a computer at home might not be an expert of that skill. It takes more of their time to do something simple; it cuts into their stress and anxiety,” Virginia Beach Education Association President Dominic Melito said.

However, most tests are shifting online.

“By 2013, virtually all tests will be taken online. Paper-and-pencil forms will only be for students who require them because of a specific learning issue,” Charles Pyle Virginia Department of Education told 13News.

The Board of Education has approved the recommended cut scores for the grades 3-8 tests. Cut scores for the algebra and beometry tests are already set. The department of education explains the goal of the more rigorous tests is to help school divisions increase the academic success of all students.