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February 1, 2000
Vol. 57
No. 5

SOL Tests Create Unfair Pressure

    Is it fair to make students use their learning time to practice tests?

      What is all this pressure around the SOL tests? All I hear in school now is that "you have to know this because it will be on the SOL tests." Our free-reading time has been discontinued (I love to read!) and replaced by SOL practice. What are the political leaders and educators pushing the SOL process worried about? Seeing schools fail based on simple tests? I wish that they would be concerned about students understanding—not just memorizing—facts.
      I feel that standardized tests cannot measure a person's potential and that educators and politicians need to seek additional ways of making fair judgments about what students know. Also, I worry that teachers are being less creative because of the SOL tests and that their teaching has become less exciting.
      I regret not writing this earlier. I was afraid. I am no longer afraid because I see things getting worse, and I believe something must be done. I hope parents, teachers, principals, and others will read this and understand that the kind of pressure that students are experiencing from the SOL tests is not improving real learning. We have lots of pressure from our peers—do we need more unfair pressure?
      Everyone has potential and can be smart in their own way. Everyone can have a great future if they work hard. I work hard and I am a good student—As and Bs. The SOL tests are not inspiring me to learn. They are inspiring me to resist the kind of teaching and learning that the SOL tests require—such as taking time away from reading.
      I also want the readers to know that there are many great teachers in the Fairfax County Public Schools—teachers who are courageous enough to go beyond the SOL. I would like to say a special thank you to two of these wonderful teachers (they know who they are). They believed in me, and I shall always be grateful to them.

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