The state Board of Education has changed its scoring system, requiring students to get more answers correct to be considered passing. In the past, 80 to 90 percent of students were deemed to be performing at grade level in schools statewide.
State officials have warned that the change will make the scores look like they’ve dropped dramatically.
“We’re going to see results in the 60s,” said Lou Fabrizio, the director of accountability services with the state Department of Public Instruction.
Fabrizio said while students performed well on state exams, they have been scoring much lower on national tests. He said that indicated it was time to raise the bar.
“I almost think about it as qualifying to run in the Olympic Trials,” said Fabrizio. “Years ago, you had to run a race at a certain pace (to qualify). Now that same time doesn’t even get you invited to the Olympic Trials”
Fabrizio also said it’s important to raise the standard to be competitive in a global society. The scoring change raises the bar, but it also endangers some schools that struggle to meet the federal No Child Left Behind standard that requires students in every demographic group to perform at a certain level.
The U.S. Department of Education is giving the state a slight break when it comes to meeting the standard because of the testing change. However, the NCLB guidelines still call for all students to be performing at grade level by 2014.
Last year, 970 schools across the state missed the NCLB mark, while 1,317 schools made it. Fabrizio said those numbers would continue to be a challenge.
Sylvia Faulk, the principal at Lynn Road Elementary in Raleigh, said she knows all about the challenge. Lynn Road has struggled to meet NCLB standards.
Because it receives certain types of federal funding, the school has been sanctioned for not meeting the standard, including allowing students to transfer. But Faulk said that tougher math standards don't have to mean more problems.
“If this means we set the standard higher, we work harder to get kids ready to compete in a global economy. That’s a good thing,” she said.
And Lynn Road Elementary parents like Vickie Adamson said they won't read too much into the numbers.
“I look at the overall scores and see that there’s a progression forward,” said Adamson.
Preliminary results show that Lynn Road will likely meet the NCLB standard this year. Results will be released at 9:30 a.m. at the Department of Public Instruction headquarters in downtown Raleigh.
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