Hardheaded Child vs. SOLs

All year, maybe multiple years now, we’ve had an on-going discussion with our younger daughter about her tests and quizzes.  She brings home poor marks on a test or quiz and when we ask why, we get the shoulder shrug or “I don’t know.”

“Did you check your work?” we ask.

“No.”  Of course, not.

“Were you rushing?”

“Yes.”

“Why?  What do you get to do when you finish?  Is there some reason why you’re in a hurry?”

“No.”

“Then why are you rushing?  Why don’t you check your work?”

Eventually, we find out that they get to play on the computer or do some other activity that she likes to do and we have a big discussion about how it’s important to take your time and do a good job on the tests/quizzes.  She gets A’s and B’s on the report cards, so we really can’t yell and scream too much, but we know she’s just not taking her time or checking her work.

Tonight we found out that she was one of the first kids done with the SOL test today.  I’ll come back to this.

SOLs are Virginia’s Stupid Ol’ Learnin’ tests…okay, not really…they are the Standards of Learning tests.  They are supposed to test the accumulated learning that some idjits have decided each grade should be learning.  As you can guess, I’m not a fan of the SOLs.  I don’t think the right things are being taught to the kids at the right age, but I’m not an education professional so the folks who developed the SOLs and designed the curricula probably think I’m an idjit.  The testing serves a couple purposes, depending on the grade of the student.  Some years it is only a gauge for the  state to determine if the teaching that year was effective at each school.  Schools can be placed on probation, principals fired or moved, etc. for poor school-wide performance, especially if this occurs in consecutive years.  In some grades, the students have to obtain certain scores in order to progress to the next grade.  What do the SOLs accomplish?  The SOL champions would point to schools where the scores always meet or exceed the standard and claim they are doing a good job of teaching while the faculty and administration at the schools failing their SOLs are not getting the job done.  I’ll agree to an extent…what the results show is that these schools, generally, are doing a good or bad job of teaching the test.  Yep.  I said it.  Between having children in school and a wife who’s taught at a couple different schools in the district, I can confidently state that the entire focus of too many teachers, usually pushed by their principals, is to teach what is going to be on the SOL tests rather than teaching well and having confidence that the students will have learned the material and be prepared to take and pass the tests.  Some principals are so obsessed with achieving passing marks on the SOLs that they create extra work and stress on their teachers, which causes the good ones to flee their schools, districts, or careers.

So, our daughter was one of the first to finish and, apparently, her teacher spoke to her about rushing through the test and not checking her work and that she hoped she hadn’t done poorly.   Her mother and I had both spoken to her about taking her time and checking her work.  When we found out she’d finished (nearly) first, we were disappointed and sent her to her room.  A little boo hooing later, we called her back down to talk.

“Did you check your work?”

“No.”

Raised voices about our prior discussions prompted a boo hooey response about how when she got to the end of the test on the computer, it wouldn’t let her go back and check.  Apparently, she must have clicked the final submit button before deciding to go back and check.  Maybe they should have had them take a practice test or provided instructions on which button NOT to click until after they had checked their work.

I’m not overly concerned.  While she’s hardheaded, she’s not stupid.  She probably did fine.  And if she didn’t, I put a fair share of the blame on the teacher/school for not practice testing and/or reminding the kids to check before clicking the submit button.

 

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