Watering Down the SOLs. Again.

by John Butcher

If you want to boost the pass rates of the Standards of Learning exams, you have three choices (aside from the one perfected at Richmond’s Carver Elementary): Improve teaching, make the tests easier, or relax the scoring.

On the 2019 revision of the math tests, the Board of “Education” chose the last option: They adopted cut scores in five of six cases that were less than the level necessary to retain the same level of rigor as the earlier tests. The results were predictable (and, of course, fed the false notion that student performance was improving).

The Board now has jiggered the English tests to the same end. The recommendation (teacher-driven; no pretense here of objectivity) was for every cut score to be lower (easier) than the level necessary to maintain the rigor of the tests.

The Board rejected the Superintendent’s slightly higher recommendations and adopted the committee’s numbers (video at 1:44:55; minutes are not yet available). This grade inflation will have the happy result of making the Board and the Superintendents and the English teachers and the students all look better, all without anybody having to break a sweat.

It will also make it impossible to measure the effect of the coronavirus on English performance.

This is not an anomaly, but rather part of an ongoing campaign to camouflage the fading performance of the Virginia public school system. However, unfortunately for the self-serving mendacity of the “education” establishment, the NAEP data for fourth-grade reading….

and eighth-grade reading…

…give away the game.

Your tax dollars at “work.”