Alternative Assessments

Aug 11, 2014

Now that the state has cut back on the number of standards of learning tests administered in grades three through eight, officials in Richmond are looking for new ways to make sure kids are learning. 

They’ll meet August 18th to explore alternatives.

Many parents cheered when the state legislature eliminated five SOL tests, and teachers are also pleased according to Meg Gruber – President of the Virginia Education Association.

“We’re looking to get back into what I call a common sense balance and start teaching the whole child, making sure they get enough critical thinking skills and problem solving, because they’re becoming way too good at the guessing game of a multiple choice test.”

But, she says, that doesn’t mean we don’t need to make sure kids are learning.

“Teachers are assessing obviously students all the time, whether it’s a quiz, a test or a project.”

And she’s part of the SOL Innovation Council, a group set up to explore alternatives to standardized tests. 

Gruber says they’re good at finding out what facts students have memorized but are not so good at assessing their understanding of the issues.

“You know it’s one thing to know what the years of the Civil War were, but you need to be able to discuss and write about the why of the Civil War.  It’s not just the slavery issue.”

The committee will eventually make recommendations to the state board of education and perhaps to the legislature.