Some North Carolina high schools students will see grades listed as “incomplete” or won’t get their report cards at all this week as a result of delays in getting state test results.
The state Department of Public Instruction hasn’t finished translating into suggested letter grades the scores of more than 25 state Final Exams taken by high school students during the past month. These tests aren’t based on a 100-point scale, and that’s causing problems for those school districts that are using the state’s new recommendations on how test scores translate into grades, instead of the systems’ determining their own grades.
“Once our district receives these scores from the state, we will finalize grades and distribute report cards to parents and guardians in as timely a manner as possible,” Orange County Superintendent Gerri Martin said in a letter to parents explaining the delay.
In addition to Orange, Durham is delaying release of high school report cards. The Chatham County school board has scheduled an emergency meeting for Tuesday to discuss delaying release of that district’s high school report cards.
Wake County still plans to release high school report cards this week, but they will list the grade for English 2 as incomplete until the scores are returned by the state, said Renee McCoy, a Wake schools spokeswoman.
Since December, high school students have been taking both traditional end-of-course exams and the new Final Exams in English, math, social studies and science. Both types of exams are used not only to assess student performance, but also – especially in the case of the new tests – to rate teacher and school effectiveness.
The Final Exams were given for the first time last school year, but individual districts took on converting the scores into grades. At the request of districts, the state was asked to come up with recommended grades for the Final Exams, said Tammy Howard, director of accountability at DPI.
Howard said districts can still develop their own conversion table.
“It’s a local option,” she said. “That’s something we want to get out there. They don’t have to use the state recommendation.”
Howard said the state table won’t be ready until Friday because DPI staff needed enough results to make a valid analysis. Most of the tests were taken during the prior two weeks.
Districts such as Johnston County that are using their own table for the Final Exams aren’t affected. Report cards without any incompletes will go out Thursday, said Tracey Peedin Jones, a Johnston County schools spokeswoman.
The Chapel Hill-Carrboro school system is also planning to release report cards on schedule this week. The district isn’t affected because high school students take yearlong courses as opposed to final exams each semester.
Some districts such as Wake and Charlotte-Mecklenburg, the state’s two largest school systems, will send out report cards on schedule. But they’ll list grades as being incomplete until they get the scores from the state for missing subjects.
Other districts plan to wait a week or two until they can use the state table to release complete report cards. They’re asking parents and students to be patient.
But Steve Farmer, head of admissions at UNC-Chapel Hill, said he didn’t think the delays will hurt anyone applying to his school. He said mid-year grades tend to come into play a little later in the winter – typically the middle to the end of February.
“When things like this happen, we always work with students and their schools to make sure that our candidates aren’t harmed by circumstances beyond their control,” Farmer said.
Staff writer Jane Stancill and Charlotte Observer reporter Ann Doss Helms contributed to this report.