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SOLs preparing students for college

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SOLs preparing students for college

Algebra 2 is one of the many SOL's of junior year.

Algebra 2 is one of the many SOL's of junior year.

Algebra 2 is one of the many SOL's of junior year.

Algebra 2 is one of the many SOL's of junior year.

Emily Shupe

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For years, grades 3-11 in Virginia have been required to take standards of learning tests at the end of the year.  Sure, most students dread this obstacle, but will these tests help prepare us for life outside of high school? For students going into college, they wonder how SOLs compare and contrast to college testing.  Or better yet, will they help us in the workplace?

The Board of Education requires the test to relate to post secondary education.  English and math SOLs are compared to College Board, ACT, and the bipartisan education organization Achieves’ standards.  With their input, along with college faculty, the math SOLs were revised in 2009, with English just changing this year to accommodate to colleges.

Some classes incorporate SOL prep workbooks into the curriculum to help students get ready for the big test.

Achieve said in a statement, “If Virginia students master the state standards, they will likely be well prepared for both workplace and college success.”  The Board of Education have altered their tests over the years. There was pressure to create new common core state standards. Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright has mentioned that, with these standards, test scores would quickly decline.

 

Mrs. McAvoy, who prepares her students for the English 11 reading and writing SOL, said, “I’m not sure if minimal standards are sufficient for college preparation.  College is real world focus; however, SOLs lay the groundwork for any major in college. If you can’t read or write, then you can’t be successful. I also think at this age now it’s hard to be sure what you want your career to be about. I think sometimes passing the SOL tests can give students a false sense of security as far as knowledge base.  Testing is a normal thing and, for almost every career, there’s a test attached to it. However, I do think there should be more classes that involve everyday lifestyle that some students don’t understand. When I was in school, students learned to balance checks, learned to live on a budget, and learned basic cooking. There should be more classes like economics and personal finance.”

The Richmond Times – Dispatch published an interview of Wright including questions of testing in Commonwealth schools.  “Is there too much testing in Virginia’s public schools? Is test preparation crowding out real teaching and learning in some schools?  You may be surprised that my answer, as one of the architects of the SOL program, is ‘yes’ to both questions.”

Destinee Shupe, a four – year college student, said, “I’d say exams are different from SOLs because with SOLs you are taught to learn something ‘because it’s on the SOL’, and in college you learn based on your degree and future jobs.  In high school there’s a lot of pressure to pass the SOLs so you can move on to the next grade where in college you want to be successful so you can get your degree and soon a job. Now, years later I can see how they could help with test taking skills, yet I don’t really remember much material from high school.”

“I don’t think SOLs are going to really make a big impact on me in college.  Having test anxiety and stressing out relentlessly is not going to help me in the real world.  I just think there is a lot of testing going on already. College is something that’s basically all revolved around the one career you’re looking for, but SOLs are unnecessary to our future jobs.”  Jacob Dolin, a sophomore, said.

Many think the best way to prepare students is to not be held at a standard.  Exceed a certain limit and not be held back from material because “there is little time.”  Sometimes necessary topics are skipped because of time management and worrying about SOLs. With scores at an all time high, could there be more alterations with SOLs in the future?  The Board of Education’s main goal is to make sure students excel once they go to college or other workplaces.

Mr. Vicars, who teaches geometry, said, “Some of my tests in college were as big as SOLs, but in college there is more flexibility.  There’s more of a variety of material in high school which tests their knowledge and ability to handle difficult questions. In college, the professor gets to teach based off his or her own tests, and the information is made more for your life goals.  Through the year I’d say it’s hard to pace and be able to help every student when testing is right around the corner.”

Ms. Proffitt, one of our guidance counselors, said, “SOLs are meant to engage your knowledge.  Recently, they’ve made adjustments to make them more realistic. In my opinion, SOLs are about memorizing material, and college is about memorizing and applying that material.  Everything depends on what you’re majoring in, so of course it’s different for everyone.”

Ever since grade school, students have spent their years in the classroom getting ready for SOLs.  Many have wondered if this would help them actually be prepared for college and college-based testing.  The Board of Education are trying to form SOLs to where they are beneficial for college, along with the real world.  There should be more classes offered at high schools along the lines of college majors. Having SOLs in these classes would be constructive for college.

 

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SOLs preparing students for college