There are new fears many students won't get their high school diplomas. Tougher testing could kick them out of the cap and gown, and back in class.
The Standards of Learning tests, or SOLs, are a requirement for all students from third through 12th grade. Now, changes to the math exam are just starting to take effect, leaving many students struggling to pass.
The Virginia Department of Education decided that the math portion of Virginia's standardized tests should be harder; meaning the number of students who pass may go down dramatically.
Craig Dommer, an Albemarle County math instructional coach, said, "Whenever you change the standards that you're assessing so quickly, students are going to have a hard time achieving that standard because there are lots of changes that have to be made."
There will be less multiple choice and new questions that test students' technological and analytical skills. Across Virginia, the first group to take these new tests in the fall of 2011 saw scores drop significantly. In geometry, pass rates fell from 79 percent to 63 percent and in algebra, they fell from 84 percent to 49 percent.
Albemarle High School student Samantha Vidovich says she and her friends are struggling: "Nobody passed that I know," she said. "It supposedly had an 80 percent pass rate, but nobody passed that I know."
The schools are doing their part. Albemarle County is offering a free "math academy" for students who don't pass. But parent Michelle Sandow says it doesn't stop there.
"We can continue to - as parents, as community members - make sure that everyone is doing their job to support their students, not just an individual teacher but we have to act as a community," said Sandow.
Students are taking the exams now until the end of school on June 8. Albemarle's school spokesperson says they wished these harder tests were phased in to give parents and teachers more time to prepare.
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