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The Grading And Testing Changes NC Students Can Expect During Remote Learning

Photo: The state Department of Public Instruction revealed a dramatic drops in student performance on standardized tests.

With K-12 schools operating remotely because of COVID-19, the state has taken the extraordinary step of easing grading and testing requirements. Here’s what that means for public school students.

End-of-year and end-of-grade standardized testing requirements will be waived.

The U.S. Department of Education has already waived federal requirements for students to take tests that help measure national education. Just this week, the State Board of Education formally asked the legislature to suspend all statewide testing requirements, including end-of-year, end-of-grade and end-of-class testing. Board members say they’ve already spoken with members of the legislature who seem supportive. 

High school seniors will graduate on time.

Seniors who had passing grades on their last day of in-person class (for many, March 13) will be considered passing for the semester, unless school re-opens before the end of the semester. The State Board of Education also voted to approve a number of ways for schools to help seniors who were not passing to earn a passing grade, including remote learning, or passing a locally developed test.

Grading For K-12 is loosened.

In order for any class to give out grades, all students must have equal access to the class materials and be able to complete the assignments. Considering the individual challenges students face, the State Board of Education has said its role is to educate students, and board members don’t want the Coronavirus pandemic to cause students to have worse grades. 

For K-5 students, teachers can provide grades, but they have to meet a high bar. For this age, the board said the most important thing is that students continue to develop and be prepared for future learning. In many districts, that means K-5 teachers will not be sending out many grades or report cards. 

For students in grades 6-11, the bar for teachers to give grades is similar. But, there are also exceptions. If students are being expected to care for family members, take on extra work or have other extenuating circumstances, they may not be graded. As the board has said, teachers in all districts and grades should consider the circumstances of each individual student.

Cole del Charco is an audio producer and writer based in Durham. He's made stories for public radio's All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Marketplace. Before joining Due South, he spent time as a freelance journalist, an education and daily news reporter for WUNC, and a podcast producer for WFAE in Charlotte.
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