If Albemarle County Schools are going to see some of the changes they want in Richmond, it's going to take political alliances to make things happen in the General Assembly. Educators met with delegates at the Albemarle County Office Building Tuesday to try and get everyone on the same page.
Albemarle County School leaders were very clear that Standards of Learning test reform is their main concern going into the next legislative session. The Albemarle County School Board says the problem with Virginia SOLs is not just the tests themselves, but the amount of them. Virginia students take 34 state assessments from third grade on, while the Department of Education only requires 17.
"What we're looking for here in Albemarle County is a potential reduction in testing, the numbers of tests our kids take, but also a change in the assessments to assessments that we consider as being the kinds of assessments that more effectively measure what we believe is worth our children learning,” said Pamela Moran, superintendent of Albemarle County Schools.
The kinds of assessments they want are projects instead of tests. Delegate Steve Landes says this test reduction could be the answer to getting the funding they need for an entire new system of student assessment.
"If we go with a different assessment, then what we're using now, you've got a phase in period, you've got to pay for that somehow. If you reduce the number of tests though, that could keep us level if you will from the standpoint it won't cost anymore,” said Landes.
But there are some roadblocks. Two big-ticket items up for debate in the General Assembly are retirement contributions and Medicaid. Both require the funding these new assessments would pull from - but perhaps the biggest factor of all is the slowly recovering economy.
"Where we might recover 8 percent, we're at about 4, 4.6 percent at this point. So that makes it a challenge because if you don't have the resources for the dollars to put there, it's a concern,” said Landes.
Albemarle wants the switch from test-based to project-based assessments to happen within the next two years. It all depends on how much funding gets allocated toward the project come January’s General Assembly session.
Albemarle Educators Meet with Delegates to Talk Legislative Wish ListMore>>