Task force: Fewer standardized tests for youngest NC students
Posted January 20, 2015
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.
This report first appeared on WUNC/North Carolina Public Radio as part of their education coverage.
Reema Khrais is the 2014 Fletcher Fellow focused on Education Policy Reporting. The Fletcher Fellowship is a partnership between WUNC
and UNC’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication funded in part by the Fletcher Foundation.