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NEWS RELEASES 2002-03 :: MAY 6, 2003


North Carolina public schools have one of the best state testing programs in the nation, according to a Princeton Review report released today. Testing the Testers 2003: An Annual Ranking of State Accountability Systems ranked North Carolina fourth behind New York, Massachusetts and Texas. In 2002, the first year of the report, North Carolina's program ranked first.

The study's author, Steven Hodas, executive vice president of The Princeton Review, said that the top four states stood "head and shoulders above the rest" of the states' testing programs. The differences resulting in North Carolina's fourth place ranking came down to the relative weights assigned to each indicator used in the study. The report notes that the general rise in quality of state testing programs is responsible for much of the downward movement in rankings.

North Carolina was given extremely high marks for the quality of information it provides to families about student performance. The North Carolina School Report Cards, available at, provides detailed information about school, district and state measures of academic achievement, teacher quality, school safety and other important measures of overall education quality.

State Board of Education Chairman Howard N. Lee said that the 2003 report verified the strength of North Carolina's testing program and also the strength of efforts to inform North Carolinians about their schools. "Testing and accountability programs are an important tool to help us identify the strengths and weaknesses in our schools. I am pleased that the tools we have for this process are of the highest quality and provide accurate information that is accessible to everyone."

No Child Left Behind, the federal education law that went into effect in 2002, places strong emphasis on states' testing programs. State Superintendent Mike Ward noted that North Carolina's accountability model helped shape the federal law. "The Princeton Review's annual report provides us with confirmation of the high quality of North Carolina's testing program and also gives us ideas for strengthening our model in the future. We are continuously seeking ways to improve our testing program and to better align it with our curriculum to accurately reflect student learning," Ward said.

Testing the Testers provided letter grades in four areas. North Carolina received a B- for alignment, an A for test quality, a B for sunshine (openness) and an A- for policy. The weighted scores provided this year ranged from a high of 88.5 for New York, the top ranked state, to a 29 for Montana. In addition to New York's score, the top four were Massachusetts at 85.7, Texas at 84.3 and North Carolina at 84. Last year, The Princeton Review reported scaled scores rather than weighted scores. In 2002, North Carolina's letter grades were B+ for alignment, A for test quality, B for sunshine (openness) and A for policy.

The Princeton Review is a national provider of test preparation and college admissions services. It does not provide any of North Carolina's testing services.

To review the complete report, please go to

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.