Student achievement as measured in traditional ways (like multiple choice tests) provides great insight into students’ literacy skills, math skills, as well as their mastery of content (i.e. Do they know historical facts?). In Virginia achievement on the state’s SOL tests (Standards or Learning) is also directly tied to state and federal accountability for schools.
With our division’s strategic plan as a foundation, GCPS has prioritized individual student growth over traditional achievement. This is not to be confused with a disinterest in achievement or a lack of recognition that achievement is important; quite the opposite, student achievement is critically important. In isolation, however, traditional achievement tests provide an incomplete picture of student learning. Paired with individual growth measures, like the division’s MAP assessments (Measures of Academic Progress), students, families, and teachers now have a more complete picture of student learning at both a prescribed point in time as well as over time (i.e. fall to winter to spring and from year to year).
Moreover, we believe a prioritization of individual student growth allows our school community to focus on the division’s mission to maximize the potential of every learner; as such, strong achievement results are a natural byproduct. Perhaps equally important, we believe a focus on individual growth decreases stress associated with high stakes state testing and increases the likelihood of students being fully engaged in their school experience.
Just a few days ago the Virginia Board of Education equipped schools with a new means of further reducing undue pressure on students by providing students in grades 3 through 8 with the opportunity to “retake” failed SOL tests depending on the associated circumstances. You can read the Board’s full press release here.
In response GCPS is working to develop a May testing calendar that provides efficiencies for these new allowances for students. Additionally, we are creating further means of communication for our families in preparation for another spring testing season.
Please don’t hesitate to contact your child’s principal, school counselor, Mrs. Jennifer Bocrie (Division Director of Testing), or me if we can answer questions or provide additional information. Many thanks!