Sunday, March 6, 2011

Education Reform: North Carolina Changes Course

In the 2004-2005 school year, North Carolina began implementing end-of-course exams. Last year, some were eliminated and more will be eliminated this year. With bi-partisan support, Bill 48 passed the N.C. General Assembly and SB114 passed the Senate. The legislation is now headed to the Governor's desk for signature. This legislation removes all state tests except those required by the federal government and is expected to save nearly $3 million dollars.

According to the Civitis Institute, North Carolina's Conservative Voice, Republicans led the charge to end the tests, due to the complaints by parents and teachers that education had become teaching to the test. Democrats, on the other hand, opposed the measure saying "testing is necessary to identify which schools are failing so resources can be distributed accordingly."

Other reasons drove the decision for change. The validity of end-of-course tests themselves had been called into question and they are standardized rather than norm-referenced. The legislature wants some testing, but believe the "current one is not the right one."

There are concerns that the legislation may conflict with the terms of Race to the Top requirements. N.C. expects to receive $350 million over the next four years. Additional concerns were raised by a Superior Court Judge saying ending these tests would "violate student's rights under the state Constitution." The judge's statement while a bill moved through the legislative process was met with some consternation and questions as to where testing measures are mentioned in the state Constitution.

In the meantime, Florida lunges into the creation and implementation of standardized end-of-course testing, silent on the costs, and ignoring decades of parent and teacher complaints in bi-partisan fashion.

Missed blogs on educational reform? They are all here.


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