Today’s employers complain that not only do students entering the workforce lack the reading, math, and science comprehension needed to perform basic duties, but also the social, communications, and problem-solving skills that help make them resilient, well-rounded leaders. During a State Council of Higher Education for Virginia meeting, educators discussed how a Liberal Arts education could address those problems, but not without doing a better job of preparing students before they leave high school. A new state initiative tackles that problem within a revised Standards of Learning curriculum.
While all phases have not been fully implemented, many educators know about the College and Career Readiness Initiative. Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Linda Wallinger says it aligns college and career-ready performance expectations to national and international college and career-ready standards in reading, writing, and math.
“We have developed optional capstone courses during the senior year—one in Reading and one in Mathematics. These courses are for students who will graduate. They’ve completed all of their graduation requirements, they’ve passed all the SOL tests that they need to pass, but for some reason, either they or some of their teachers feel that they may not have the skills necessary to be successful,” says Wallinger.
These non-traditional, elective courses don’t repeat previous content, but instead allow students to apply what they know in a performance-based manner. The state also implemented new “College Path” mathematics SOL assessments and will do so next year for English. All will help measure whether students have mastered the skills they need for college or the workforce without remediation.