Mandatory Geosystems SOL remediation sessions cancelled


Photo by Carolyn Chheath

A pressure map located in one of the geosystems rooms.

Last month, Geosystems teachers informed students of a new policy implemented to increase the Earth Science Standards of Learning (SOL) passing rate. The Jefferson administration had created a regulation requiring students to attend SOL remediation sessions during eighth period if they scored within the bottom ten percent on a practice test. However, on Feb. 24, Jefferson administration and the Geosystems department met together and cancelled the sessions.

“We never have any fear that TJ students are going to fail the Earth Science SOL; that is not an SOL we’re afraid of,” Geosystems teacher Douglas Cullen said. “There is some desire to improve the number of student who get the pass advance. Now, that’s a high bar.”

Ever since the Earth Science SOL changed two years ago, pass advanced rates on the test dropped across Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) schools. Last year, one hundred percent of Jefferson seniors passed the SOL but only 40 percent of those students passed advanced.

“I was concerned about the fact that students would be placed in remediation more due to the poor formatting of the test,” senior Linda Allworth said. “I feel like for students it’s easier to learn what they need to, but when you’re just faced with poorly worded questions it’s harder to figure out the question even though the knowledge wouldn’t be an issue.”

Many students were relieved to hear that the mandatory Geosystems remediation sessions were no longer being enforced. Some believed that the school’s approach to improve scores would not have been effective.

“It would not have been helpful. Even though the people who had the idea only brought it up with good intentions, I feel like it wouldn’t have really done anything for the students. The kids who would not do well on the Geo SOL would not necessarily do any better if they were forced into remediation,” senior Tim Cha said. “Forced studying doesn’t have the effect that the people want it to if the kids aren’t willing to put in the effort into studying.”

Geosystems teachers also did not understand the motivation behind the remediation sessions and how they would benefit students at this point in time. At the beginning of this year, they had changed their curriculum to address the topics that students were missing on the SOL.

“We added a whole new section on astronomy and a metamorphic rocks lab that we didn’t previously have. We already made a lot of changes and we had also planned on using the AP time as a time to give students a chance to do some practice SOL test and get some feedback on what they do and don’t know and then provide some remediation on that. The administration were kind of operating without knowing what we had already had planned,” Cullen said. “The result is, we don’t see any need to sticky people in. We don’t see a need to make a huge remediation at this point.”