At Sandusky Elementary School on Thursday, students and staff linedthe hallways to give high-fives and show support as the thirdgraders went into their math Standards of Learning tests. The exams are a source of concern for Lynchburg”s schoolofficials, as earlier batches of Lynchburg elementary and highschool students were averaging four hours to get through the mathtest. “Frankly, that is too much time in testing,” LynchburgSuperintendent Scott Brabrand said. “I think we are goingpast the tipping point where it’s becoming less a test of knowledgeand more a test of stamina.” The exams reflect Standards of Learning enacted by the state in2009, taught for three years and tested for the first time thisyear.
School officials in Appomattox and Bedford counties also reportedstudents across the grades taking longer with the tests and findingthem more challenging. For the first time this year, students in the sixth grade and upwill be graded on special “technology enhanced”questions — anything from creating a graph to filling in theblank. Third, fourth and fifth graders are seeing those questions too, butwon”t be graded on them until next year. Virginia Department of Education spokesman Charles Pyle said themultiple choice questions that make up the majority of the testalso are more rigorous and require greater application ofknowledge. “We know these tests are taking students longer tocomplete,” he said.
At the state level, that”sprompting concern about school divisions failing to adequatelyteach the standards to students. In a press release, VDOE called the 2009 standards a”critical component of the Commonwealth”s effort topromote college-and-career-readiness.” The state education department provided statistics from the smallnumber of students who took the tests in the fall due to blockscheduling. Those statewide statistics showed plummeting scores inAlgebra, Algebra II and Geometry. Most dramatically, while 84.1percent of first-time test takers passed the Algebra I test lastfall, only 49.2 percent passed this fall. Historically, test scores dip when a new test is introduced, thenimprove once students and schools become better acclimated. Beats By Dr Dre Wireless Headphones
A handful of E.C. Glass High School students interviewed for thisstory said they thought this spring”s math tests were muchmore difficult this year than last, taking three periods or socomplete, instead of one and half. “I know some people that are pretty smart and they all failedit,” said freshman Cameran Headlund, of the Algebra I test hetook last week. Students who fail an Algebra, Algebra II or Geometry test but get ascore above a certain cutoff have the opportunity to retake thetest. Beats By Dr Dre Wireless Headphones
Bedford County Supervisor of Testing and Planning Mark Blankenshipsaid this year his division is giving about twice as many retakesas in the past. And Lynchburg Director of Testing April Bruce saidteachers and high school students have been heartbroken by some ofthe preliminary results. Students need to pass end-of-course SOL mathematic tests such asAlgebra in order to graduate, though the new tests don”taffect current seniors. Annette Bennett, Appomattox County”s Director of Curriculumand Instruction said she doesn”t mind the division being heldaccountable to higher standards, but worries about currentsophomores and juniors, who will need to retake and pass within thenext year or two in order to graduate. “I’m good with the standards. AKG Foldable Headphones Manufacturer
I’m good with the rigor. I justwant students to have another option to get a Virginia high schooldiploma,” she said. For more information, visit the state department of educationwebsite, http://www.doe.virginia.gov , which currently features links to information about the new mathtests directly on the homepage.