Virginia allows elementary and middle school students to retake their Standards of Learning exams if they narrowly miss passing or have other extenuating circumstances. In the eyes of Roanoke Superintendent Rita Bishop, almost every excuse that crossed her desk apparently qualifies as an extenuating circumstance.
Bishop approved all but 19 of 470 requests this year to retest elementary and middle school students, according to documents obtained by the Roanoke Times under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. Among the qualifying circumstances: students forgetting their glasses, witnessing or experiencing trauma at home, or having test anxiety ranging from sweating to vomiting. The test re-takes came with additional tutoring.
“I care about these kids deeply,” Bishop told the Times. “If anybody thinks that what was done was in any war harmful, what we did was we made kids believe in themselves.”
What the Roanoke school district also did was improve the accreditation ratings of its schools. Writes the Times:
Most of the students who retested attended schools whose accreditation appeared at risk. At those schools, once internal reporting showed enough of the retested students had passed, testing stopped.
When the state announced school accreditation ratings this month, Roanoke had earned full accreditation for all but one of its schools and made enough improvement at the remaining school to keep its partial accreditation status.
It’s the district’s highest achievement since the 2012-13 school year. …
Current and former Roanoke district educators said there was so much pressure from central office to retest students that the forms to request a do-over felt like a rote exercise with approval all but certain.
They claim when teachers refused to fill out requests, central office staff did so despite the teachers’ objections. Other times, they said, teachers weren’t consulted or even told their students would be retested.
Bacon’s bottom line: Do I even need to add a bottom line? The story speaks for itself. (Hat tip: John Butcher)