Virginia leaders are applauding this year’s gains in student Standards of Learning tests, especially since the Department of Education made the assessments more rigorous. But, the state Superintendent of Public Instruction would still like to see improvement—particularly for English language-learners.
Statewide, students posted five-point overall gains in reading and math, with a two-point increase each in writing, science, and history. In a release, Governor McAuliffe gives some of the credit to a recent law that allows elementary and middle school students who fell just short of passing to retake the tests. Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Steven Staples says it also means that teachers are adapting well to the ramped-up standards. But he says there was a slight dip in scores for the growing number of immigrant students.
"And when I talk with the teachers, they're telling me that many of those students are struggling not only with language but with basic literacy because so many of the kids who are coming in hadn't been getting formal schooling even in their native language. So I think we're going to have to continue to focus on English language learners."
He also says even with the overall positive gains, Virginia is using only multiple-choice tests, and educators want to be able to improve and assess student performance in other areas that include team collaboration, oral communication, and problem-solving—which employers say are not measured.