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NC Education Leaders Want To Cut End-Of-Grade Testing

multiple choice test
Alberto G.
Flickr Creative Commons

Education leaders are considering drastically cutting the number of standardized tests for public school students.

Members of a state task force charged with studying how often students are tested have drafted a proposal that would eliminate almost all end-of-grade tests and end-of-course tests.

“Right now, we know that too much weight is put on end-of-grade tests and end-of-course tests,” said Bladen County Schools Superintendent Robert Taylor, who’s on the task force.

Instead, members say they want to see elementary and middle school teachers focusing on what they call formative assessments: Incorporating tests as part of the instructional process, rather than waiting at the end of the year when it's too late. 

In the draft proposal, members are recommending that 3rd through 8th grade teachers administer four online assessments throughout the year for Math and English.

“We want assessments that are going to give real data that’s usable for the parents, students, school teachers,” said Joe Maimone, headmaster of Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy in Cleveland County.

Members say they are also recommending keeping end-of-year tests for at least one grade, so North Carolina is to able compare scores across districts and states. 

For high school, they are suggesting that schools administer a series of assessments, like from the ACT program, to meet state law requirements and help determine college readiness.

Members say they're considering the challenges the changes could pose, including what it would mean for measuring student growth and teacher performance. They are also having conversations about whether their suggestions would be in conflict with federal law.

"We're hoping that what we're talking about will line up perfectly with what the federal government is also look at addressing in terms of testing," Taylor said, adding that it would be up the State Board of Education to negotiate any changes that don't align with federal law.  

The task force says it’s collecting feedback from the public as they craft final recommendations to be submitted in the spring to the State Board of Education. 

Reema Khrais joined WUNC in 2013 to cover education in pre-kindergarten through high school. Previously, she won the prestigious Joan B. Kroc Fellowship. For the fellowship, she spent a year at NPR where she reported nationally, produced on Weekends on All Things Considered and edited on the digital desk. She also spent some time at New York Public Radio as an education reporter, covering the overhaul of vocational schools, the contentious closures of city schools and age-old high school rivalries.
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