Rep. Jeffrey Elmore of North Wilkesboro is the primary sponsor of a bill seeking a merger of portions of House and Senate legislation that reduces the number of standardized tests given in the public schools.
The plan pushed by Elmore and other House education leaders could eliminate over 20 state exams and overhaul the remainder of the state testing program. Many of the changes would start with the 2019-20 school year.
Elmore stated, “The testing culture in our schools has been building up over the past 25 years. It is to a point that it is hurting students, parents and schools. We are taking steps to reduce standardized tests that are basically testing for testing sake.”
Some legislators have said they believe the legislation eliminates too many tests.
The House Education Committee, which Elmore co-chairs, passed a version of the Senate’s testing reduction legislation (Senate Bill 621) last week that includes part of the similar House legislation. The House and Senate have already approved their respective similar bills.
Elmore is a Republican and an elementary school art teacher in the Wilkes County Schools.
The new version of Senate Bill 621 eliminates N.C. Final Exams starting in the 2019-20 school year. These 20-plus state tests are given to students of teachers who don’t have results from a state end-of-grade (EOG) test or state end-of-course (EOC) test that can be used to evaluate their performance.
The new legislation also prohibits school systems from requiring high school senior projects to graduate, starting in 2019-20. The Wilkes County Schools are among school systems with this requirement, which includes presenting the project to a panel and writing a paper.
The new version of Senate Bill 621 also:
• requires that school systems determine how many hours students spend on local standardized tests. If it’s more than the time spent on state exams, they would be required to have a plan to reduce local testing. Districts would do the reports every two years in even-numbered years. The first report would be due in 2020;
• replaces the state EOGs exams given in grades 3-8 in reading, math and science with the N.C. Check-Ins, which are shorter exams given to students three times a year in each subject. The Check-Ins are currently voluntary but would become mandatory beginning in the 2022-23 school year;
• eliminates four remaining state EOC exams for biology, English and math typically taken in high school. Replacing these would be the ACT taken by all high school juniors or a “nationally recognized assessment of high school achievement and college readiness.” This change would start in the 2020-21 school year;
• requires that the N.C. Department of Public Instruction review the third-grade reading EOG to determine if it should be modified to better meet needs of the Read to Achieve program.
The bill must be approved by the House Rules Committee before it’s voted on by the full House. It would then return to the Senate for a vote.