Dear SOL: I Got My Own Standards


All I have heard for the past three weeks is SOL talk.  At first I ignored it because well I don’t care about SOLS.

No, really, I don’t care. The only standard I hold my kids to is my husband’s and mine.

How my kids do on some test that someone made up over 15 years ago has no bearing on their daily school day or on our life at all.  Beau failed an SOL over 10 years ago and he managed to go on to Maggie Walker and then headed off to college and is about to finish his last year with an A average while holding down a full time job; failed SOL long forgotten.

I like my twelve-year-old son Donovan’s teachers and his school.  I have faith in what they are teaching him and how he’s learning and while yes I could suggest improvements they would have nothing to do with more testing.


And so we did nothing special for SOL week.


But I heard of kids getting sick the night before fraught with anxiety; rallies were being planned; ice pops and lifesavers served; protein breakfasts being eaten; all indications that this test is indeed important.

I get it, all we are trying to do is help and I’m grateful to have a kid who’s pretty nonplussed by the whole topic; some kids however are anxious, some kids are scared, some kids are sweating bullets.

Children pressured because some panel, some board, some administration, some politicians decided pressure fear and conformity was a good teaching tool; schools feel pressure to perform which is passed onto teachers which is dumped at the final stop on a passel of unsuspecting kids’ heads beginning in 3rd grade.

So what really is the point of the SOLS?  In this day and age we certainly have at least learned that most kids learn differently, that some kids don’t test well, that being a good tester is not necessarily an indication of success, then why in the world do we expect them to perform and to what purpose?

Let’s spend that 1.7 billion states spend on testing to make real improvements instead of towards falsely measuring where we aren’t yet and decide if that is even where we want to be.

Let’s not cut funding from failing schools and instead spend more on them because quite frankly they might need it.

Let’s put our money towards providing training for our teachers and smaller classes.

Let’s put our money towards better food for our kids to eat at school and towards outdoor facilities for physical education.

Let’s put our money towards more instruments and art supplies instead of using it towards tests that essentially put our kids on the chopping block and see how they measure up.

And while I expect my kids to do the best they can in school there are so many other things that form and give function to a child’s life than an education in a classroom; from learning how to work hard, to learning how to overcome obstacles, to working with a team, to learning how to love others.

Those are lessons you don’t want to opt out of and remember that the most important standards your child should ever try to live up to have nothing to do with a paper, a pen, and a bubble questionnaire but are learned in your family home and are taught by the most important teacher they will ever have.