Community members, teachers, and parents shared their thoughts with the Virginia Department of Education during a public hearing.
The Virginia Department of Education is proposing some changes that would affect school accreditation regulations and student graduation requirements.
If the proposals pass, the amount of standards of learning (SOL) tests required would decrease from nine to five for students receiving an advanced diploma, and six to five for a standard diploma.
Additionally, the new regulations would still award schools credit for students who show significant improvement, even if they don’t pass the test.
“The expectation remains that that student will meet those high standards within a few years. The school can only get credit for that student making progress for a few years before our expectation is that they’re performing at grade level,” says Holly Coy, the Deputy Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The Department of Education is proposing these changes because they have received feedback that the current accountability system relies too heavily on standardized testing.
“Schools would like to see a reduction in the amount of sol testing to leave some more room for some more innovative practices, not only on the instructional side, but also on the assessment side,” says Charles Pyle, the Director of Communications for the Virginia Department of Education.
The new regulations would also evaluate schools based on other factors, such as achievement gaps between different groups of students and consider issues like chronic student absences.
“This approach provides students with opportunities to demonstrate the required knowledge and skills in more authentic ways and provide valuable feedback about progress toward meeting the Virginia profile for graduates,” remarks Jane Strauss, the Vice Chair of the Fairfax County Schoolboard, during her presentation at the hearing.
Officials say these could be the most sweeping changes for the state’s accreditation regulations in at least a dozen years.
The state board of education has four more public hearings scheduled this summer before taking action on the new standards.
If the proposals passes, they will be implemented in the fall of 2019.