Monday, June 21, 2004

Testing your way out of graduation 

There's a story in the Washington Post on a student who passed all his classes but didn't graduate because he didn't pass the Standards of Learning test in Virginia. (These are regrettably abbreviated as SOL.) The test doesn't appear to be unfair, since he had a 490 SAT to boot. This doesn't preclude him simply doing poorly at standardized tests, though the article shows he has a history of educational difficulties that have been diagnosed and treated. He has a 2.23 GPA in school. And despite repeated tests and remedials, the desire to pass them to play collegiate football, and seeming like a good kid, he can't pass the reading and writing test.

Did this school let him slide for too long? You decide:
Joyce O. Jones, director of guidance at Gar-Field [high school --kb], said Copeland is "one of many" students who get passing grades by working hard in class but whose academic weaknesses are pinpointed by the SOLs. She said the tests, which are given beginning in elementary school, increasingly are uncovering problems early, before they become a barrier to graduation.

Supon, the guidance counselor, said he believes that Copeland deserved to receive a diploma with his classmates but that he will need more than just reading remediation before he can tackle college level work. "He's got a good brain, but he's going to need some help with [college]. Junior college might be good, where he could get remediation courses," he said.