Stop relying on tests

Published 8:11 pm Friday, August 10, 2018

New changes are on the horizon for public schools all across the Commonwealth with new accreditation and graduation requirements.

This is going to do two things – less reliance on the SOLs for education and less of a stigma on schools that can’t reach tests scores.

In November 2017, the Board of Education approved the decision to revamp the accreditation standards and lower the number of “verified credits” required to graduate. The graduation requirements will only apply to those entering their freshman year in the fall.

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A verified credit is acquired from passing the end-of-course SOL, and students are currently required to earn six verified credits to graduate with a standard diploma, according to the Virginia Department of Education.

The number of verified credits will be reduced to five – English reading, English writing, mathematics, science and history.

Suffolk Public School administrators are happy to see the reduction because it gives students a chance to diversify their education.

With a new accreditation system, Suffolk Public Schools will be able to get rid of some of the stigma attached to unaccredited schools.

Schools will now be rated accredited, accredited with conditions or accreditation denied. A school will only be denied if schools fail to implement state-required improvement plans.

As long as Suffolk Public Schools work hard to implement improvements then there is a chance none of the schools would be considered unaccredited.

Every school in Suffolk is accredited except Booker T. Washington Elementary School, John F. Kennedy Middle School and Mack Benn Jr. Elementary School. Elephant’s Fork Elementary and King’s Fork Middle are considered partially accredited.

This is just another way that the Department of Education is shying away from putting all the educational value on the SOLs. This new system gives schools a chance to be valued for other things than standardized test scores.

Now students and teachers can give themselves a chance to stress less and learn more. This is a welcomed change, and by the end of next school year, the changes will be apparent in Suffolk’s schools.