Several Charlottesville, Virginia-area elementary schools have filed official public reports that appear to falsify students’ scores.
The reports claim that from 2011-2013, on average 80 percent or more of their third-graders passed the Virginia Standards of Learning (SoLs) for historical knowledge. But even graduates of America’s top colleges and universities do not possess the historical knowledge that these school are reporting four-fifths of its 8- and 9-year olds have.
Virginia’s SoLs for third-graders declare that the student should be able to perform the following tasks (among others), presumably as a condition of graduating to the fourth grade:
• The student will explain how the contributions of ancient Greece and Rome have influenced the present world in terms of architecture, government (direct and representative democracy), and sports.
• Describe the individual rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and equality under the law.
• Recognize that Americans are… united by the basic principles of a republican form of government and respect for individual rights and freedoms.
• Explain how producers in ancient Greece, Rome, and the West African empire of Mali used natural resources, human resources, and capital resources in the production of goods and services.
• Describ[e] the accomplishments of Christopher Columbus, Juan Ponce de León, Jacques Cartier, and Christopher Newport.
The SoLs don’t say the student should have to pass a multiple-choice test about these facts and concepts. Rather, they say the student should be able to “explain” and “describe” them — meaning that one should be able to sit down with a student and say, “Johnny, tell me about the basic principles and origins of our republican form of government that the U.S. Constitution was crafted to facilitate, and how it was influenced by the ancient Greeks and Romans.”
From 2011-2013, Woodbrook Elementary School in Charlottesville, Va. has filed public reports that claim an average of 80 percent or more of its third-graders pass the Virginia SoLs for history. Another Charlottesville-area elementary school, Stone Robinson, reported even higher scores among its third-graders on the history portion of the SOLs. Still another area school, Brownsville Elementary, reports similarly stellar history knowledge among its third-graders.