The Virginia legislature is on its way to delaying some school reforms pushed by the former governor, Bob McDonnell, and reducing the number of Standards of Learning tests students are required to take.
The state Senate on Tuesday passed bills to reduce by about 25 percent the number of SOLs students take — from 34 to 26 during their K-12 public school career. There has been increasing unhappiness in Virginia (and in other states) among parents and educators about the number of high-stakes standardized tests students are required to take, with dozens of school boards in the state passing resolutions in the last year calling on officials to revamp the SOL program.
In addition, lawmakers voted to delay by three years, from 2014 to 2017, a program to grade all public schools with letter grades, from A through F, based in large part on student standardized test scores, and to change the way the grades would be determined by adding different kinds of criteria. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Sen. John Miller, the sponsor of the bill, said the system as currently set up “measures poverty and not academic achievement.”
Senators also passed legislation to delay by one year, until after the 2014-15 academic year, to implement an entity yet to be created that would take state control of schools deemed to be failing.
The House of Delegates will vote on the legislation soon. If they pass, which is likely, Virginia will be one of several states that are slowing implementation of elements of corporate-influenced school reform that has dominated public education for years.