Local News

End Of Grade Testing Questioned

Posted May 9, 2001 10:31 a.m. EDT

— For many North Carolina students, moving up to the next grade hinges on a test score. Ninety-nine thousand 5th graders must pass an end-of-grade test to move on to middle school next year. A third of them failed the end-of-grade test as 4th graders.

Some people think the high failure rate indicates a problem with the tests, rather than with the students. They want the tests to stop.

A group of parents, researchers, school psychologists and lawmakers launched a protest of the state's accountability program. The Coalition for Fair Testing says the ABC's program and the state's promotion policy are anything but fair.

School psychologist Steve Breckheimer says that "decades of research on retention shows that it does not help kids academically."

Minority and poor students are failing at twice the rates of white students. The group says that the state is failing these students.

"Why can't we fully fund remediation programs before we fail students? They can't tell us. Why can't we make at-risk kids a priority instead of an afterthought? They can't tell us," says Chris Fitzsimmons, director of the Common Sense Foundation.

The Coalition says the state can run a fair and appropriate testing program, but they believe the one currently in place is not adequate.

Three bills are on the way to the Education Oversight Committee. They would require schools to use more than tests to evaluate student progress, and would provide more money to help failing students.