SOL Reforms Pass Unanimously in Committee, Head to Full House - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

SOL Reforms Pass Unanimously in Committee, Head to Full House

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Virginia lawmakers made big progress Wednesday on a big issue - Virginia's Standards of Learning tests. A House committee approved a plan to drastically reduce the number of tests students have to take.

This is a major overhaul, with overwhelming support on both sides of the aisle - and it's a plan lawmakers hope will help get students and teachers away from test taking and back to learning.

“You know that discussion is happening at your kitchen table, then you know it's happening at other kitchen tables as well,” said 32nd District Delegate Tag Greason (R).

Lawmaker by day, dad of three by night, Delegate Greason has a rare perspective on how Virginia’s SOLs are affecting students.

“Thirty-four SOL tests, we had end-of-year tests, we had mid-term tests, we have benchmark tests - I think we don't give enough time to actually teach,” said Greason.

It's a question that has long eluded lawmakers: how do you reduce the classroom burden while ensuring students are still learning? Now, they think they have the answer.

“We're reducing tests by about 23 percent, freeing up hundreds of thousands of classroom hours,” said 45th District Delegated Rob Krupicka (D).

Republicans and Democrats want to scrap eight tests - mostly in lower grades - in favor of new, local assessment tools to promote more critical thinking.

“We should be deciding do they know or not know the information, and can they apply it in a problem-solving environment,” said Greason.

A committee of stakeholders would also oversee ongoing revisions to state SOL tests. The plan received broad support from experts, and passed unanimously Wednesday in a House committee.

“Pretty impressive to see every single major education stakeholder say they support this change,” said Krupicka.

After more than a year of work, the proposal now heads to the House of Delegates - but lawmakers say this is just the beginning.

“This will evolve over the course of several years, and I think that work is still ahead of us,” said Greason.

These SOL test reforms are expected to pass the House of Delegates, and cross over to the Senate next week.

This likely isn't the final product, but lawmakers are optimistic changes will be made this year.

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