In response to a post about the New York State tests, a teacher in Virginia sent this comment:

As a VA public school teacher, let me assure you that the VA state tests are as bad as the NY State tests. I did my undergraduate degree in NY. It was very hard for my university to find me a second special education student teaching placement since I did the last 2 placements in spring semester, and none of the classroom teachers wanted to turn their rooms over to a novice just before state testing.

Virginia schools have the Standards of Learning (SOL; as a non-native of VA, I was stunned at the names of their state tests. In military parlance, SOL stands for Sh___ Out of Luck). The 8th grade tests are not used for promotion, but until recently they could count for high school graduation in the case of students with disabilities.

Students in VA start testing in grade 3, and test every year thereafter until they are high school seniors. We had major issues with testing software and a new math test last year, as well as a new 8th grade Reading test. The year before that, it was the history exam.

A teacher at my school went from a 87% pass rate in self-contained and team-taught special education classes to less than 35% pass rate in a regular education class (he is dual-certified and changed to primarily regular education 2 years ago). I am also dual certified and teach primarily self-contained special education history classes; until this year, I taught all 4 of our history classes, plus case managed students with significant developmental disabilities (as opposed to learning disabilities).

None of my students in my self-contained classes have ever passed the exams, which is now 30% of my evaluation score (and due to rise to 40%). I can’t imagine why anybody would willingly teach special education… Especially significant disabilities since our state test for those students is now aligned identically to the regular education grade level tests. Blech.