By Kendall McGee | December 14, 2020 at 3:01 PM EST – Updated December 14 at 6:22 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Superintendents around the state are working to change a rule that requires state exams must contribute to 20 percent of a student’s final grade.
In New Hanover County, EOC exams began Friday Dec. 11, and will continue through Thursday, Dec. 17. Students in courses that require the state exam must come to school in person to take the exams, even if they’ve been completing their work remotely from home this semester.
This fall, the federal Department of Education failed to produce a testing waiver like it did last spring, leaving districts around the entire country to administer those exams under both federal and state laws.
Those laws mandate that 95 percent of the district’s students take the tests and that the results must count for 20 percent of a student’s final grade.
The group of superintendents are asking families and community members who disagree with the 20 percent rule to fill out an objection form and submit it to the NC Rules Review Commission.
“This is something we should be given grace on,” said Dr. Foust. “We should not be holding students EOG, EOC scores 20 percent of your grade, not during this time.”
Dr. Foust said it’s not fair that students should be held to the same level of accountability after not receiving the same quality face-to-face instruction students have in years past. Final course grades are factored into GPAs, transcripts, and, ultimately, impact college applications. The superintendent also says these scores have an impact on student mental health.
State leaders discuss testing requirements
During the state Board of Education’s December meeting, the Department of Public Instruction gave a presentation on the existing testing and accountability requirements and talked about what options could be available to relieve some of those requirements due to the pandemic.
The state board soon will finalize its testing rule for the entire state requiring most students to take EOC assessments. This rule will also require that a student’s EOC grade counts as at least 20% of the student’s overall grade for the class. Once the State Board secures final approval from the NC Rules Review Commission, these requirements will become permanent. It will then be difficult to change this EOC rule, even if North Carolina gets testing waivers from the U.S. Department of Education.
At December’s state Board of Education meeting, leaders recommended submitting a federal waiver request from the 95% testing requirement, and pushed further discussion of the 20% EOC grade requirement to the Board’s next meeting in January.
So far, the current U.S. Department of Education has refused to grant waivers for the 95% requirement and leaders estimate the earliest the Biden administration could address the requirement would be mid-February.
While State Board leadership gave school districts the flexibility to postpone EOC testing until the spring or even the summer, school leaders are worried testing students six months after they completed a course will hurt their performance.
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