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Va. Senate Votes to End Science, History Testing for 3rd Graders

We hear it said often that "what gets tested gets taught." With that in mind, advocates for teaching science and history may be concerned about a bill just approved by the Virginia Senate that would eliminate standardized testing for the state's 3rd graders in those two subjects.

The measure, which passed with bipartisan support 33-7, would limit Virginia's Standards of Learning tests to only reading and mathematics at the 3rd grade, according to the Daily Press newspaper of Newport News, Va.

The bill apparently came in response to a study by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission that recommended limiting the state's SOLs to reading and math, the story explains.

"I believe it makes common sense to concentrate on reading and math, and give a good basic foundation in those two core subjects for our students," said Sen. John Miller, a Democrat and the bill's sponsor, according to the story.

Advocates emphasized that science and history would not be abandoned, but Sen. Mark Obenshain, a Republican who voted against the bill, said he was concerned that 3rd graders would no longer be taught those subjects.

The bill was reportedly backed by a number of statewide education groups, including those representing school boards, superintendents, and elementary school principals.

I should note that the action by the Virginia Senate comes as a draft Republican bill released by the House Education and the Workforce Committee would eliminate the federal requirement for science testing by states. Current law under the No Child Left Behind Act mandates such testing at least three times for students, once at the elementary level, again in middle school, and once in high school.

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