Show off your holiday lights and you could win an iPad! Enter your photo by December 13. Winner will be selected by popular vote.
Panelists during a discussion on Monday night said education should focus on problem solving and critical thinking.
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
About 70 people attended a town hall meeting in Roanoke County on education, focusing on standardized tests and how they affect teaching and learning.
The meeting, held Monday at Northside Middle School, was hosted by the Roanoke County Council of PTAs. Officials reviewed the findings of a recent homework survey, which asked parents and teachers about testing, before holding a panel discussion followed by a question-and-answer session.
The survey, conducted by Roanoke County schools officials earlier this year, showed the majority of parents and teachers who responded said there could be less emphasis on measuring learning via Virginia’s Standards of Learning tests.
Laura Bowman, the Roanoke County Council of PTAs’ president, helped organize Monday’s meeting and moderated the event. She said parents in the community are talking about the emphasis on testing.
“They are talking to me about the over reliance on high-stakes testing in our schools and what that does to students and teachers,” she said before the meeting.
Bowman said she hoped having the town hall meeting, which was open to people outside the county as well, could be a way to begin talking about changes. Bowman said something must change, but just how to do that and what direction parents should take is unclear.
“I think we need to bring everyone into the conversation,” she said. “This could be catalyst for change for the whole Roanoke Valley.”
Bowman added there is a lot of pressure on children to perform on tests.
“No parent is saying there shouldn’t be testing and accountability,” she said. “We need a reasonable amount.”
Panelists during the discussion talked about the need to shift from rote memorization and teaching to largely multiple choice tests to an emphasis on critical thinking and problem solving. They stressed balance.
“Testing is impacting the school system in a dramatic way,” said panelist Thom Ryder, an Oak Grove Elementary School third grade teacher who explained that different types of testing affect 40 to 45 days of the school year.
Ryder said when Virginia’s SOLs were first implemented decades ago, they were intended to map out the curriculum for educators, ensuring there wasn’t repetition in what was being taught and to give teachers guidelines.
But that’s changed, panelists said. Now there’s an emphasis on scores that do not always take into account progress, and the process can be rigid.
“Instead of becoming standards and objectives to use, it’s become something else,” said panelist Sarah Goodman, a Cave Spring Middle School teacher.
The idea of changes to SOL tests has gained some attention in recent months. In August, several local politicians called for changes to the state’s testing system. Both candidates for governor have also said SOL tests need reform.
Bowman said she extended invitations to Monday’s panel to both gubernatorial campaigns and a representative from the Terry McAuliffe campaign was on the panel. Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli is scheduled to be in Roanoke today to talk about K-12 education.
State education officials for their part have pointed out that in recent years there have been changes to the SOL tests. Math standards were overhauled two years ago, leading to more rigorous tests and more recently there were changes to science and English assessments.
In closing the meeting, Bowman said she intends to explore creating a resolution against high-stakes testing and she encouraged those in attendance to continue discussion about testing’s role in schools.
“I hope this conversation doesn’t end,” she said.
Weather JournalWarmth next 2 days hits icy wall