By the Lasso Editorial Staff
As students in a Virginia public school, we have all undergone the standardized tests administered by the state, such as the Standards of Learning (SOL) or the STAR Math and Reading assessments. While the information from used from these tests can be considered helpful in small aspects for placement and progress purposes, the problems with this testing outweighs the benefits by a long shot.
The Lasso, along with the teachers and administration of George Mason High School, recognize these troubles fully. The Lasso supports the FCCPS recent resolution asking the state to consider amending its testing approach.
A petition has been circulated to all of the schools within FCCPS asking for support to reexamine the current Virginia public school assessments, including the SOLs.
A major problem that faces students and teachers when it comes to standardized testing is the amount of time it takes out of the school year to prepare for and take the actual tests. Teachers are expected to make sure that all of their students pass these tests which means that teachers, whether they want to or not, must teach their students to take the test.
This takes away the freedom for teachers to teach what they feel their class will react to and learn from the best. Teaching to take a test should never be an objective for a teacher, but when the state puts such high emphasis on one particular test that dictates whether a student has comprehended the material taught in a yearlong course, in many cases it leaves them no choice.
Another problem is that these tests evaluate every student based on the same criteria. Especially in a public school, our student population is wildly diverse. We have students from a wide range of backgrounds and testing them all in the same way with the hope of getting the same results just doesn’t make sense.
This problem brings extremely high levels of stress to students who may not be as prepared as others for this type of test. These stress levels can affect the test results as well, and not passing these standardized tests for classes like Algebra I, and English can result in a student not moving to the next level of that course.
A new form of testing must be established and put to use. The current standardized tests do not effectively measure a student’s academic ability and they do not provide enough adequate information that warrants the days of class time that have to be removed in order to prepare for and take each test.