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The North Carolina State Board of Education’s Task Force on Summative Assessment assembled on Friday afternoon for its final meeting and discussed sweeping changes to the testing landscape that it is planning to recommend to the State Board. 

The changes (the link goes to a draft of the recommendations report) include scrapping End of Grade tests in grades 3 through 8 and replacing them with three interim assessments throughout the year and one EOG-like assessment at the end of the year. 

In high school, the Task Force is recommending eliminating the current system of testing and replacing it with two pre-tests in the 9th and 10th grade and a post test in the 11th grade. The 9th and 10th grade tests would focus on content the students must master for the 11th grade post test. The high school tests would move away from the ACT, which will not be available after 2015-16, according to the report. A suitable replacement would have to be found, and the Task Force discussed the need for any substitute to be acceptable to colleges. 

The Task Force discussed with Tammy Howard, the Director of Accountability Operations for the Department of Instruction, the roll-out of a 5,000 student proof of concept study in the 2015-2016 school year using 5th and 6th grade students from a controlled, random sample of school districts. Schools may opt out of the proof of concept study through an already-established appeal system. The long-term goal of this “fact-finding mission,” as described by Howard, is to attempt to have a full roll-out of formative testing in the 2017-2018 school year.

Among the concerns of the Task Force was the fear that their recommendations would only be introducing more testing. This was a particular worry when it came to the proof of concept study. Many localities administer their own interim assessments, and Task Force members worried that students would be overwhelmed if they had to take the state tests in addition to their local tests during the study period. 

The Task Force sought to ameliorate that concern by suggesting that districts participating in the study should not administer their own interim tests. 

While there is no official schedule yet for when the final report will be made to the State Board, it will likely occur at the July or August meetings. The meeting concluded with Chairman A.L. Collins’s closing remarks to the board, saying “Instruction first, data collection second, is something I don’t think anyone else is doing, and if we’re able to capture it and get it right, this time will not only be well served for the students of our state, but probably the rest of our country.”

Liam Murray

Liam Murray is a news intern for EdNC. Born in the DC area, he was raised in Raleigh where he attended Hunter Elementary School, Ligon Middle School, and Enloe High School. He is currently a student at the University of North Carolina.