The state has ended using end-of-grade and end-of-course tests to determine if a student moves on to the next grade. The state board of education made those changes Thursday. The tests have long been a source of anxiety for students and parents. The tests will still be given, but now will only count as a minimum of 25 percent of the students' final grade. I've included a news release from the state BOE so you can look at exactly what's being done and why. What do you think?
HERE'S THE NEWS RELEASE:
The State Board of Education today voted to end the state-required performance gateways that have linked promotion and graduation to end-of-grade and end-of-course tests for the past several years. This move is a part of the state's greater emphasis on early diagnostic assessments that can pinpoint student learning needs before the end of the school year. This change will be effective with the current school year, 2010-11.
Board members noted that they had several reasons for making this change:
A review of the data shows that the gateways have not made a significant difference in promotion or retention patterns in schools.
State law gives principals the authority for grading and placing students.
The required waiver process that has been followed with the gateways is time-consuming and has little noticeable benefit for students.
The state gateways required North Carolina students to pass end-of-grade reading and math tests in grades 3, 5 and 8 in order to be promoted to the next grade level. High school students were required to pass a "gateway" of five core end-of-course tests in order to graduate effective with the 9th graders who entered high school in 2006-07.
Local school boards continue to have the option of setting promotion and graduation standards that are more rigorous than the state standards. Also, students will continue to take the end-of-grade and end-of-course tests and results will continue to be reported and monitored at the school, district and state levels.
"The gateways were initially put in place with good intentions to address the problem of students being promoted before they were ready, but the policy has not had the intended effect," said State Superintendent June Atkinson. "The new accountability model being developed and implemented over the next few years has a much stronger focus on early diagnostic assessments. Our goal is to make sure that teachers spot student learning problems early when there is plenty of time to make a mid-course correction."
The student accountability gateway standards in elementary and middle schools have been in place since 2000-01 for grade 5 and since 2001-02 for grades 3 and 8. The high school standard has affected one graduating class, the Class of 2010. Students who are currently in high school and who have not passed a particular gateway will no longer be required to do so.
Beginning with the ninth grade class entering high school in 2006-07, high school students have been required to pass five core end-of-course tests in order to receive a high school diploma. These tests were in Algebra I, Biology, Civics and Economics, English I, and US History. Under the changes approved today, students still will be required to take these exams and their score on these tests will continue to count as a minimum of 25 percent of the students' final grades.