CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (NEWSPLEX) Governor Terry McAuliffe was in Charlottesville Tuesday promoting several new bills that will change the way kids take tests in school.
He says the bills will reform the Standards of Learning system, and recognize schools that improve their test scores.
Dawn LoCasale, the principal at Burnley-Moran Elementary School, says these laws are already making a positive impact on her students.
Third graders at Burnley-Moran Laura Chaing, Francesca Oppenheimer and Jasaun Johnson wrapped up SOL testing last week. Thanks to some reforms in the SOL system, the students now only take two exams instead of four.
"Some are really fun and some are boring," said Chaing
On Tuesday, the three students were tasked with the very important job of helping McAuliffe sign several bills that reform those tests.
"They could have chosen fourth graders, second graders, but they chose up to be responsible and go up on stage with the governor, so I was very excited about that," said nine-year-old Johnson.
McAuliffe ceremoniously signed three bills into law that he says will improve the quality of students' education in Virginia.
"The goal is 'are children learning?' If they are not, then let's make sure we are doing things that we can correct it," McAuliffe said.
The bills recognize schools that have improved their pass rate, and allow middle and elementary students to immediately re-take the standards of learning tests if they were a point or two away from passing, something previously only available for high school students.
"At the end of the day, with testing, you want to make sure that our students are learning and that there is accountability, but the situation we have today there is such high anxiety, stress and it shouldn't be that way," said McAuliffe.
LoCasale says some students were retaking the SOLs Tuesday thanks to those new laws.
"Four-hundred is a pass, and they've gotten a 399. For them to be able to retake that and they get a 450 or 500, one day makes a difference in testing," LoCasale said.
McAuliffe says these bill were just the first step in reforming education in Virginia. He hopes to make more changes so educators no longer have to teach to a test.
"Too many tests, too rigid. That's not what our chidlren are in school for," McAuliffe said.