You Might Want to Look Closer at HB377 – When Non-Educators Dictate How Students Should Be Tested

There is no question that reducing standardized testing is a must in public schools.

Yet, how to do so remains a bit of a test. Earlier in the year, Mark Johnson suggested in a released statement in the News & Observer,

State Schools Superintendent Mark Johnson announced this week several changes that the state Department of Public Instruction will make for testing this school year that he says should reduce the amount of stress on students and teachers. Changes include state exams with fewer questions, allowing students to leave the exams sooner and easing rules requiring exam proctors.

  • Fewer questions?
  • Shorter testing time?
  • No proctors?
  • Students can leave after taking actual tests?

On the surface that sounds great. But there are some serious questions and considerations that need to be answered and fleshed out.

First, if there are fewer questions for tests, will the tests still themselves count the same amount in the students’ final grades? As of now, an EOC or NC Final in high schools counts for %25 of a student’s final grade for the course. Would fewer questions on a shorter test still carry the same impact as previous tests with more questions on a longer test? If so, that would mean a student’s final grade will depend on fewer test questions.

That’s more room for error and a shorter amount of time would be used to dictate a student’s final grade.

Secondly, these tests would still be used in determining school performance grades. Remember that %80 of a school’s performance grade is based on achievement scores – scored derived from standardized tests.

Other proposed bills have been floated in Raleigh such as HB377.

HB377 2

This yet entitled bill is “AN ACT TO REPLACE OR ELIMINATE CERTAIN TESTS ADMINISTERED TO STUDENTS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND TO PROHIBIT HIGH SCHOOL
GRADUATION PROJECTS AS A CONDITION OF GRADUATION.”

But in a state that still wants to have “achievement” be weighed so much more highly than growth, what migth end up happening is that there will be fewer tests, and therefore more weight on singular assessments.

Look toward the end of the second page of this version of HB377.

HB377

It says “replace EOCS with the ACT.”

Yes, allow the once administration of the ACT to take the place of the EOCS in high school. Make the ACT an even bigger presence in the lives of high schoolers – a test that was originally designed as a measurement for college-bound seniors who were serious about getting into college.

Currently, North Carolina is one of fewer than 20 states that requires all students (EC, LEP, etc.) to take the ACT, which has no impact on their transcripts, provides no feedback in its scores on how to improve student achievement and is administered on a school day on which other activities and classes take place.