NORTH CAROLINA PUBLIC SCHOOLS ENTER END-OF-YEAR ASSESSMENT PERIOD
Test Scores to be Reported in new READY Accountability Model this Fall
Students in grades 3 through high school have begun the assessment period to measure their learning from this school year. This is a well-known routine for public school teachers and students, reaching back to 1993 for end-of-grade assessments and even further for high school end-of-course assessments, but this year, assessments are new to match the new Standard Course of Study that teachers began implementing last fall.
Students in grades 3 through 8 will take end-of-grade tests in reading and mathematics. Fifth and eighth graders also are tested in science. At the high school level, students take end-of-course assessments in Algebra I, Biology and English II.
In other subjects, students may be taking new common exams. These exams have been developed as a tool to measure the value that teachers bring to their students' learning and performance. Student performance on common exams will be used in the educator evaluation program and may be used as students' final exams if the local school and district leaders choose to do so. Developed with participation by more than 800 North Carolina teachers, the common exams are provided in subjects such as social studies and science. Development of common exams or measures of student learning in other subjects are under development for use in future years.
Because the state's assessments are new, there will be a delay in reporting student performance and in reporting school performance. This summer, the cut scores for proficiency will be set and results will be reported in the early fall. This is the process for setting standards when new assessments are put in place. Students will still receive their report cards and final course grades as usual.
State education leaders anticipate that state test scores will drop this year for two reasons. The new Standard Course of Study in all subjects is more rigorous and challenging and the new assessments are more difficult than prior years' assessments.
"We know from our own history that every time we raise expectations, there is a dip in student scores and school performance. But, over time, students rise to expectations and schools perform at higher levels," said State Superintendent June Atkinson. "Higher standards for our students provide a better foundation for their success in college and careers. It's the right move to make, even if scores drop in the first year."
This pattern also has been seen in other states, such as Kentucky and New York, which have recently raised their standards for student learning.
Also new this year will be an accountability system to measure and report on school performance. The final year of the ABCs of Public Education accountability model was 2011-12. Beginning with the 2012-13 school year, the READY accountability model will be used. The new model will make substantial changes to the high school accountability model in particular and will include measures such as high school graduation rates, student performance on the ACT college admissions exam and WorkKeys assessments for career and technical education students.
Schools will receive a grade of A-F under the new model as required by the NC General Assembly, and legislative action to finalize details of the A-F grading system is expected over the next few weeks. The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction will provide more information on this new accountability system following this General Assembly's actions.
Visit the Accountability Services' website for more information on the new assessments.
About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 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.