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.



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  • Terry Watts Jan 20, 2015
    user avatar

    Interestingly enough, RWers generally call for "merit-based" pay for teachers. "Merit" can only be measured through testing.

  • Danny22 Jan 20, 2015

    It's about time. Testing has been out of control for a lot of years.

  • Thomas Fenske Jan 20, 2015
    user avatar

    The problem with the big standardized tests is that a great deal of instructional time is spent on actually preparing for the big test rather than, say, learning. What the students generally learn is how to take the test. Schools need to concentrate on fundamentals for the younger students. The "formative assessments" should be pop tests ...

  • AppStgrad Jan 20, 2015

    Many districts already use quarterly common formative assessments to drive instruction. They are MUCH more useful to determine individual student needs, strengths, weaknesses etc. It would be great if those replaced EOG's!

  • Hammers Jan 20, 2015

    As a parent, I want to know how my child is progressing from one year to the next. Why is that such a bad thing? Yes, the stakes are stacked way too high, but is that policy, or testing?

  • jimcricket15 Jan 20, 2015

    HUH? So am I to believe that no testing or evaluation is done during the school year NOW? This is nonsense. SO your system is dysfunctional, find a new excuse. Why it is the tests of course. I have watched this State constantly pursue of course of attempting to shift the goal posts around to make it look like it is succeeding. I love how some people still want to blame economic conditions for poor results of the education system. THAT IS NOT THE PROBLEM and never has been the problem. We are operating a horse and buggy system. Until we change that, this 3 card monty game by the people in control of education will continue. Folks home school or go private if you can. Stay far away from the public system.

  • Lisa Grabowski Jan 20, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Not necessarily true that "negative" socioeconomic factors = negative impact on student performance / quality of education. See stats from things like the No Excuses Schools, or other examples of low-income, high % minority schools with superior scores. (Additional source: I grew up bouncing around from lower income school to lower income school, in which the majority of the student pop was not white. Myself and others still succeeded, if not surpassing our peers at "nicer" schools.)

  • Dee Sides Jan 20, 2015
    user avatar

    The federal government should not be driving states' education policies especially since they only provide around 8% of funding. Glad task forces are getting it right for children in individual states. IMHO, there should be NO federal department of education trying to run over the states. Let the governors meet and confer.

  • veyor Jan 20, 2015

    A definite step in the right direction. Now if we can ever realize that the economic conditions say in Northampton County vastly affect the students adversely just like the conditions in say North Raleigh have a positive effect, we'll be starting on a more helpful course.

  • hforbes482 Jan 20, 2015

    Oh if only the state will stand up and go with this. But let's still not tie promotion and teacher evaluations to this . 4 short assessments sounds so much better than one all or nothing test at the end of the year. Plus about another 15 days lost to other assessments.