Foundations and Assessment of Education/Edition 1/Foundations Table of Contents/Chapter 14/Student Soapbox

Foundations Chapter 14 Student Soap Box

Let's say "No Child Left Behind" is revamped by the new Obama administration and school districts now have to decide for themselves on how they will demonstrate that students are performing on grade level.

You are working at a school and the principal calls a meeting. He wants you, the teachers, to propose a new strategy for showing student mastery of the state standards.

What do you propose? (Add a new headline if you'd like.) Try to win your classmates over to your way of thinking.

Add your response below. Extra credit will be awarded to multimedia responses.

Let's just stick with the SOL tests. Edit

I think SOL's are borderline. I think it is great that there is a standard set that is a line to see whether school's are doing what they need to do. It is holding school systems responsible. Saying that I do feel that there has to be a better way of assessing students then a standardized test. If SOL's are done away with then I do feel there needs to be standards set by the state to continually show progression and student achievement. Sston008 (talk) 00:59, 10 August 2009 (UTC)

I think for the time being SOLs are the way to go. I also think that teacher made tests should be incorporated as well. SOLs were constructed for students to be at certain standards and I think at this time they are the best way to go. It allows students to be learning and tested on the same thinkgs which is good especially for military families and those that move a lot. The SOLs area good way to teach students at the same pace. Lwill031 (talk) 15:05, 9 August 2009 (UTC)

I believe keeping the SOLs is the best idea for now. I believe there needs to be some kind of standards for teachers. This allows all students to be taught in the same way. What is wrong with reaching goals and striving to do your best? I know it seems to add so much stress for kids and teachers worrying about passing the SOLs, but there definitely needs to be standards that educators need to meet. We do want all students to have the same opportunities and be exposed to the same knowledge skills. Aferg006 (talk) 02:58, 8 August 2009 (UTC)

Maybe the reason that some teachers dislike SOL tests is because it forces them to step up their games and have lesson plans that conform to a set of standards. The SOL's ensure that teachers teach relevant information that students need, and I think that it's a good plan. I like that it forces students and teachers to try harder and reach goals. The SOL's aren't a perfect solution, but there is nothing wrong with teaching a set curriculum, and the students being responsible to reach those goals. Ldomm002 (talk) 00:25, 8 August 2009 (UTC)

Although I may not like all points of the SOL tests, I think that we are probably better off if we keep the SOL tests. These tests allow the students to be tested on the lessons they have been taught, and it provides a central test for teachers to use. Also, they provide certain points of focus for the lessons the teachers must teach. I do not like how teachers feel that they cannot branch off of their lessons and teach anything unique, but I think that the benefits outweigh the costs. Schools have been using these tests for years now, and students are successfully graduating and receiving great jobs. This shows that they were obviously taught and tested on lessons that brought them great success. Afett001 (talk) 22:16, 7 August 2009 (UTC)

I believe for right now even though most people do not agree with the SOL tests that keeping them is the best idea. I do not feel that having a teacher made test is subjective enough to be used to test students' abilities in the classroom. I believe that SOLs are good standards to test students against and should be kept in place at least for now. You can make additions to the SOL or edits, but I do believe that keeping the SOLs are the best testing method for now. Rburt005 (talk) 13:12, 8 August 2009 (UTC)

SOL type testing appears to be working when it comes to testing standards, why change what works. If a there are going to be standards that are being tested for, and it is going to be stae wide why change anything that for the most part is currently working. Mlipl001 (talk) 02:01, 9 August 2009 (UTC)

I think SOL testing contains the information and the challenges that a student needs. I feel that if we stick by them for now, it will improve. At my high school we had a certain week in which we only focused on SOL testing procedures in each of our classes. I believe that this helped and it made each student feel ready to face them. Ehern004 (talk) 18:54, 8 August 2009 (UTC)

I think the SOL's are currently the most successful form of testing to date, thus I think they should be kept. If we allow teachers the freedom to assess and test their students we could run into a variety of problems. They provide a set of guidelines for educators to adhere to and follow throughout the year; ultimately ensuring consistency across the board. If it were to change in the near future there would need to be a clear set of standards that teachers would continue to follow when creating their own tests. It will be interesting to see what comes of the NCLB in the near future. Rpaige (talk) 15:06, 9 August 2009 (UTC)

The SOLs are not a bad idea. I think that the multiple choice format of the test does limit to test understanding, and also makes it very easy to cheat on. Keeping a standardized test seems to be the best answer. However, i believe the tests should be short answer, where especially in math, the work is counted. I think another important alternative would be allowing teachers of kids who can't seem to pass to submit a portfolio for a student and take away some of the pressure on this high stakes tests. Scrai010 (talk) 02:15, 10 August 2009 (UTC)

Sticking with SOL tests are the way to go. Looking at how schools do on SOL tests is one way that a school can assess how well it is keeping up with standards of the state. A "new" way of assessing a school or school districts progress may be to continue working on developing a type of benchmark system that gives the most helpful feedback in preparation for the SOL. School systems with ineffective benchmarks waste a lot of time working on benchmark analysis that give no significant direction in helping these teachers prepare theirs students for the test that counts the most: the SOL. Mbrowder (talk) 01:07, 17 August 2009 (UTC)


The idea behind the SOL's was a good but it was taken too far. The teachers begin preparing for the SOL's within the first few weeks of school because the pressure to perform is great. The teachers are supposed to be teaching the state standards anyway so have the teachers in each grade compile questions for that grade that demonstrate state standards. If the teachers should have faith in themselves that they have done their job and their students know the information they need to. No more year long pressure that gets worse in the spring. The pressure is bad for the students and the general environment. Many students find it difficult to learn under pressure. The teachers are quickly going over information and maybe even skipping things that would excite learning because it's not on the SOL.Jnemo001 (talk) 01:39, 10 August 2009 (UTC)

I think removing the SOL's would take a lot of stress off of the teacher and especially the student. Now a lot of teachers don't teach whats in the textbook just what is going to be on the SOL. I think that the SOL's had a good run. I think that instead of having the SOL's and letting the teacher's final exam (that they have to submit for approval any way) be the equivalent. If the student can't pass the class then most of the time they just think that the SOL's are a waste of time. The graduation rate of a school should be looked at more closely than the percentage of questions that you can answer on a test that you don't really care much about in the first place. Rcoll029 (talk) 04:54, 10 August 2009 (UTC)

Teacher-made tests! Edit

It seems to me that if teachers are trusted the whole year round to deliver information, conduct testing and evaluate children, why should they not be allowed to do this at the end of the year? I am not sure that each individual teacher is qualified enough to create a test that will evaluate whether or not the children in the class are learning on grade level, but it seems to me that something drastic must be done to revamp the SOLs. I have heard too many complaints from teachers that teaching to the SOLs and giving the SOL tests at the conclusion of the year just isn't working. Too many children are not good "test takers" and this doesnt mean that they have not learned anything or that they are dumb, it simply means that they do not perform well on standardized tests! I don't have a specific solution but I think teacher made tests are a good idea and a valuable option for changing the current system! Khedl002 (talk) 00:21, 10 August 2009 (UTC)khedl002

I think that teacher made tests would be an excellent idea. I believe this for a couple of reasons. First and foremost because no one knows students better than teachers!! Teachers would have real expectations, not far feached or underestimated. Another reason is because teachers are constantly assessing students anyways. Teachers could collaborate together to make these tests and some teachers with more service time could proof read these tests. I think it would empower teachers and help them with the stress load that they are constantly dealing with. I also believe that students would feel more comfortable as well. Some students just do not perform well on standardized tests. Teacher made tests might help the students feel more at ease. Especially if they know that one of their teachers in their school helped prepare them. Just a thought!!Hcomb003 (talk) 16:49, 7 August 2009 (UTC)

What's wrong with a teacher making a test to reflect the SOL standards they've taught in their classroom and giving that to their students? The principal or even a third party could review the test to make sure it followed the SOLs, then it could be given. There is so much pressure on the kids at the end of the year to "pass those SOLs" and I don't believe that all students perform well on these standardized tests. Are teachers no longer trusted to teach and give tests? (talk) 23:38, 7 August 2009 (UTC) Sciaston (talk) 23:15, 7 September 2009 (UTC)

Teacher-made tests seem to be a practicle approach for teachers to assess the knowledge their students have gained during lessons. I think SOL's can be used mainly as a guideline for what students "should" know according to standards set by the state. Teacher-made tests can follow the SOL guidelines, but go into more detail so that the teacher can decide if they need to reteach some areas or take a different approach so that the majority of students understand and retain the knowledge from the instruction. I also think that teacher-made tests might not promote stressful competition among students in the district as a whole, because the tests would be specialized and not generalized like the SOL's. Teacher-made tests also brings back creativity in teachers that they have not been able to utilize in a long time due to government, state and local regulations. Learning should be fun otherwise what is the point. If learning is not fun and there is no room for deviation from the norm of standardization...students lose interest and usually find destructive ways of occupying their time instead of constructive ways. I am not one for tests in the first place, let alone tests that are generalized. I think I would be able to fair better on tests that were generated with a creative flare, with topics and questions I could relate too, than tests that are standard that I have no interest in.Scarlett1 (talk) 22:02, 8 August 2009 (UTC)

Portfolios Edit

Although tests, either standardized or created by the teacher, would be easier to grade, I actually think that portfolio would give a better assessment of a student and a general view of their strengths and weaknesses. It is true that portfolio do require more time on the teacher because they have to spend a large quantity of time preparing and evaluating it for each student. There is also the problem that if students do not know how to use technology, it will take more instruction time on the teacher in order to have an accurate portfolio. However the quantity of time spent on a portfolio would be worth the quality of it because we would see how strong a student is in writing, how weak there are in reading, if they perform better in hands-on activities, and so forth. More importantly, the assessment of the portfolio will not only benefit the current teacher, but future teachers as well because they will have at least a glance of what individual students, small groups and the class overall can do and cannot do. Portfolios are also beneficial for the students themselves because they can see what specific areas they are strong in, what areas they need to work on , how far they have come from the beginning of the school year to the end. I do think that students should take some form of a teacher made test, however it does not have to be the conventional multiple choice/fill-in-the-blank/short answer test. A class may be full of students who understand the material and not do well on these types of tests. For these students, teachers can have them do hands-on or creative activities in place of test. For example, if a 3rd grade class is taking a test on rocks, they can choose to take a multiple choice test, or they can take a hands-on test. The teacher could have different stations with different rocks and students would have to write down what type of rock it is. Adart001 (talk) 17:34, 8 August 2009 (UTC)

I believe the students should be able to be assessed by portfolios created during school. While this would create more work for the teachers, it would give a better example of students abilities. Tests do not always accurately reflect students' abilities. Many students suffer from test anxiety and therefore, their test results often indicate deceiving levels of ability. Portfolio assessments eliminate test anxiety and provide more accurate descriptions of ability. They can also be used to show progression and not just an end result. Jtmitchem (talk) 16:53, 9 August 2009 (UTC)

Portfolios sound like a good idea. I have to do portfolios in college since I am an art major ... the same theory should work for any subject and would show that a student does understand what they are learning. It would also take the stress off for students who are not good test takers. Hcogg001 (talk) 23:45, 9 August 2009 (UTC)

I think that portfolios could be a good idea. Students will be able to clearly look back and learn from mistakes, etc. There would be more project based and possibly cooperative learning as well. Alucy001 (talk) 02:42, 10 August 2009 (UTC)

Portfolios are probably the best, but also the most difficult solution. If practicality were not an issue I’d go with portfolios. They give a much clearer concept of a student’s knowledge as a whole and are less arbitrary than other methods. Not to mention they provide practical experience to a student rather than “test taking” experience. Portfolios also often come in handsome folders, some even with glitter. Yay, glitter. BitterAsianMan (talk) 07:15, 10 August 2009 (UTC)

No more SOL's! Edit

I would propose a contest ala Revenge of The Nerds. Baring that– I would want to see a lenient national curriculum in place, and some basis of assessment that doesn't stink. Hey- I do like portfolios. They can easily showcase how a student has developed and what they've learned. The entire mindset of surmising how much a child has achieved based upon a scoring system with no true definable standard needs to be re imagined. Hsmit022 (talk) 22:22, 7 August 2009 (UTC)

The SOL tests may have seemed like a good idea when they were originally proposed, but I believe that they have done nothing but lower learning standards and squelch teacher's creativity. Because of the strict curriculum guidelines set by the SOL's, teachers can not make up their own curriculum or teach what they want. I think that the SOL should be discontinued. Schools should not have to teach their students only the bare minimum, causing them to miss out on all the other great things they could be learning. I do not think, that teaching should be free from any guidelines, though. I think that teachers should have to adhere to a general set of guidelines, that say, for example, "in their English class, all 11th grade students should read Huckleberry Finn, and Hamlet, and should complete a term paper. In addition to this, the teacher can assign any other novels or projects that they want." If schools had guidelines like this, students would not only learn things that they need to know, but the teachers could get creative with what they teach and how they teach it. Also, teachers could have higher expectations for their students, causing their students to do better in school, overall. I think that getting rid of the SOL tests and letting the teachers teach how and what they want with higher expectations would create better students. Sbutl016 (talk) 17:56, 6 August 2009 (UTC)

I wouldn't necessarily want to eliminate the SOLs themselves, but I would want to eliminate the actual testing. The SOLs do provide a decent foundation for curriculum development. I just want to be able to expand my lessons and make learning fun again. Let's include more hands-on learning! I miss making art projects in the classroom, not just in art class. If a science class is learning about plants, it would be great to take time to learn about the job of a aquatic plant pathologist and head down to the lake to see what he does as well as explore the creatures in that habitat. What a great way to encourage exploration and knowledge for all types of learners. So I day, "Down with the tests!" and eliminate the stress. We can increase student (& teacher) expectations and making learning fun again. Acrow005 (talk) 18:48, 6 August 2009 (UTC)

I actually do not mind the SOL’s. I just think the narrowed curriculum and the high-stakes testing does not show mastery of a subject at all. I agree there should always be a baseline for what students need to learn. However, summative, multiple choice testing does not show mastery. It would be better to have a combination of portfolios and multiple choice testing on less material. It would be best to also give short answer tests on less material. If you have to give tests, give them after each unit. In addition, our teaching of subject discipline has to change as well. The old teacher-centered, worksheet classrooms have to be disposed of. Our old methodologies have to change to something more formative. We need classrooms and students that are constantly being evaluated by everyday activities. We need to foster a more integrative approach. A more hands-on, project-based approach. We have so many ADHD kids because who wants to sit in a desk and be “taught” for eight hours a day? I do not even want that. We need to adopt methods that allow students some choice in materials so they can better retain the information. My ideas on this topic could go on forever. Abitt002 (talk) 18:15, 7 August 2009 (UTC)

I think students have enough finals at the end of the semesters, now they also have to do SOL's. I think that if students can prove their knowledge by passing their final exams, that should be enough. I think that if students pass their test during class there is no need for SOL's. I think that if we had a national curriculum where all teachers are given the topics of what they needs to be taugh, students would learn and want to learn more. Allot of students suffer from text anxiety and have trouble taking a test like SOL. many students are capable of proving knowledge juat maybe not through and SOL test.Bpenn005 (talk) 20:48, 7 August 2009 (UTC)

I think that the theory and practice of SOLs is sound. The issue that I have is there is such an emphasis on passing these tests that this is really what some teachers are teaching to. Evidence of this is in late May after the tests are over, how many teachers find that they have nothing to do? I know that there must be a standardized test that must be given to ensure that benchmarks are beig met, but this is a huge emphasis on a passing test, for the schools and the student. I am not sure that this is the way to correctly evaluate knowledge if the reality is that some students are not great test takers and the stress is way too great.Jnewh001 (talk) 19:53, 8 August 2009 (UTC)