FIRST RESULTS OF COMPUTER SKILLS TESTS RELEASED
In the 1996-97 school year, 74.8 percent of all eighth-graders who took the North Carolina Computer Skills Tests passed, meeting this new requirement for high school graduation.
A slightly lower percentage, 67.4 percent, passed the new tests on the first try.
This is the first year that data are available on this new requirement. Local school system data are attached.
In 1995, the State Board of Education established a computer proficiency requirement for diplomas issued beginning with the graduating class of 2001. Students who were eighth graders in 1996-97 were the first group of students to take the tests. The tests are given three times a year, so students who don't pass the first time have additional opportunities to re-test. The computer skills requirement, considered to be fairly challenging and rigorous, includes a multiple-choice test as well as a performance test that requires students to demonstrate their ability to use software for word processing, database and spreadsheets. Students also must demonstrate keyboarding skills.
State Superintendent Mike Ward said that the first year's results show that even with widespread differences in hardware and software in schools across the state, North Carolina can require and students can demonstrate important understanding of computer skills knowledge and use. "Computer technology is embedded into most workplaces and higher education," Ward said. "It is extremely important that we require students to know how to use computers, but also how to use them effectively and ethically. These tests measure students' ability to demonstrate that knowledge."
Findings showed that during the first year of the test, a higher percentage of females than males passed (71.8 percent for first-time female test takers and 79.1 for all females versus 63.1 percent for male first-time test takers and 70.6 percent for all males).
Disparities exist in performance among subgroups. Black and Hispanic students had lower percentages passing than Asian and White students. The percentages for Black students showed that 46 percent passed the first time, with a 56.9 percent passing rate overall. Of American Indian students 45.7 percent passed the first time, and 60.6 percent passed overall. For Asian students 75.1 percent passed the first time they took the test, and 81.6 percent overall passed. Among White students, 78 percent passed the first time they took the test, and 84.4 percent passed overall.
The Computer Skills curriculum is designed to be integrated throughout the other subjects of the Standard Course of Study, although some schools also have supplemental computer skills classes for students to hone their skills.
North Carolina is the only state to require a computer skills test for graduation from high school and overcame considerable challenges over the last few years in the implementation of computer skills tests. Because of the wide variation in equipment used by schools, the performance test is administered using a variety of platforms and accommodates many versions of integrated software.
For more information on local school system results, contact the local system's testing coordinator; for additional information on test results and information about the tests, please contact Mildred Bazemore, chief, Department of Public Instruction Testing Section, 919.807.3774.
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About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.
For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.