Thursday, November 29

Tide turns against testing in North Carolina

Thanks to NYC Public School Parents for pointing out news I missed about testing in my home state, North Carolina. Taking into account criticism that students are spending too much time taking tests and schools are spending too much time teaching to them, a state commission has recommended that some standardized tests be eliminated and others not be considered when evaluating schools.

It's up to the state Board of Education to approve the changes, but if it does, kids in 4th, 7th, and 10th grade will no longer have to take a (routinely flawed) writing test, and 8th graders will be free from a computer exam, which was far more difficult for teachers than students even in 1997, when I took it. And the pressure will be off in five high school subjects, where students will still have to take end-of-course tests to pass but schools won't be judged on their success.

North Carolina's testing program has been in place since 1995 and was a model for other states' accountability programs. A member of the commission told the News and Observer, "We’re testing more but we’re not seeing the results. ... We’re not seeing graduation rates increasing. We’re not seeing remediation rates decreasing. Somewhere along the way testing isn’t aligning with excellence.” Now it's time to try something else. Trends in education have such a short lifespan. Joel Klein and James Liebman may already be living in the past.

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