Editor: Recently, Loudoun Now published “Loudoun Students’ SOL Scores Dip Slightly.” While scores did dip some, they are still quite high, and these high scores are a testament to our hardworking faculty and staff. However, ask almost any teacher, and he or she will describe many of the shortcomings of state testing. And so, while yes, be proud, also be aware of what a test does and does not measure.
A clear body of research that shows that, when predicting success beyond high school, you should look at GPA, not test scores. This is because GPA measures aptitude over time as well as life skills such as attention, grit, and perseverance. Researchers see this effect across high schools, helping to discount a “grade inflation” argument. Success in life is more closely tied to personality and work ethic, and these are two things that GPA tends to measure well. While most of these studies have looked at college admissions tests, it is not unreasonable to think the same thing holds for SOLs.
The fact is that we, as a society, are moving away from testing. High schools are getting rid of APs and over 850 colleges are now test-optional. So, yes, celebrate these high scores, but, as a state let’s be forward thinking. We need to measure aptitude over time, and whether that is with GPA’s or portfolios, we know that there are better mechanisms than tests.
Ronnie Ross, Middleburg
[Editor’s Note: The writer is seeking the Democratic nomination for the 27th Senate District.]