State prepares schools for lower scores

Erin Smith Staff writer

October 25, 2013

RALEIGH — The pending release of the state’s end-of-course and end-of-grade test results have a good-news, bad-news component to them and may even have some folks reaching for the tums.

On Friday afternoon, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction held a webinar for school administrators and media to give an overview of what folks can expect once the numbers are released on Nov. 7.

“Seventy percent of North Carolina schools met or exceeded growth for 2013,” said Tammy Howard, a spokesperson for the NCDPI.

However, she said that administrators can expect to see a drop in test scores overall based on the proficiency component. Howard did not give any specific numbers or point to specific schools or counties in terms of their performance.

“The 2011-12 tests had a different set of standards and a different set of expectations,” said Howard in her presentation. “Students continued learning, but our expectations of what shows preparedness now and beyond high school has changed.”

Locally, in an emailed response, Valerie Newton, Bladen County Schools public relations director said, “With the anticipated drop in test scores, we want to emphasize that a drop does not mean that students are not learning or progressing, nor does it mean that our teachers are not teaching.”

Howard said this is not the first time that North Carolina has introduced new standards and seen a decline in test scores.

“It is not uncommon when you have shifts in performance ….. it is not uncommon to have drops in student proficiency,” said Howard.

The decline is more pronounced this year according to Howard. The state’s schools moved to the revised Standard Course of Study and the drops were 16 to 25 points in reading, 27 to 44 in math and nine to 33 in science.

“This can be traced to the content standards,” said Howard.

There are three accountability measures being looked at in these scores — proficiency, growth and meeting specified performance targets, said Howard.

Howard said the growth components identifies which students learned over the past year and the proficiency component looks at the percentage of students performing at grade level.

“We expect performance to increase over the next several years,” said Howard.

Rebbecca Garland, also with NCDPI, gave an overview of the state’s testing system and how it has changed over the last ten years. She said that the scores will be available Nov. 7 to the public with state, district and individual school results.