Work is underway
During his campaign last year, Gov. Terry McAuliffe promised to seek major reforms in Standards of Learning tests given in public schools.
His platform said, "We must have a strong system of student achievement and teacher evaluation. Unfortunately our current system isn't working for parents, students, or teachers. The current Standards of Learning tests have created an environment with an over-emphasis on drilling students to take one-time, multiple-choice tests."
McAuliffe said the multiple-choice exams lean too much on rote learning and should use essay questions as well to assess students' comprehension. Teachers, he said, should be evaluated on their students' improvement in scores -- not how they stack up against state averages. McAuliffe pledged to appoint a commission to study the tests and recommend changes.
This issue gained bipartisan support in the General Assembly earlier this year. It passed a bill that reduced the total number of SOL tests students take from third through eighth grade from 22 to 17. The legislation also created an SOL Innovation Committee that, over the next two years, will recommend improvements to the tests.
On June 30, McAuliffe appointed 34 people -- mostly educators from across the state -- to the committee. The panel's first meeting is slated for July 15.
McAuliffe is clearly making progress on his pledge to reform the SOLs. We rate his promise "In the Works."
McAuliffe, campaign platform, May 6, 2013.
Richmond Times-Dispatch, "House advances bills on school openings, SOLs, school ratings," Feb. 11, 2014.
Legislative Information System, 2014 HB 930, accessed April 29, 2014.
Richmond Times-Dispatch, "McAuliffe vetoes school prayer bill, signs SOL reform," April 4, 2014.
McAuliffe, "Governor McAuliffe Applauds House Passage of SOL Reform Legislation," Feb. 11, 2014.
NBC29.com, "Gov. McAuliffe Announces Next Steps in SOL Reform Process," May 5, 2014.
Office of the Governor, "McAuliffe Administration Announces SOL Innovation Committee Members," June 30, 2014.