Hundreds of thousands of North Carolina high school students might have to take some of their final exams this month the old-fashioned way because of the state’s uncertainty about being able to offer the tests online.
State education officials notified school districts last week that they can’t guarantee their computer system will be able to handle 350,000 students taking their Career and Technical Education final exams online. The system had malfunctioned in January, causing some students not to be able to finish their fall semester exams.
Joanne Honeycutt, CTE director for the state Department of Public Instruction, said Thursday she anticipates that many of North Carolina’s 115 school systems will opt to not use the online option for the spring semester finals.
“A lot will choose to do paper and pencil because they want confidence it will be a positive test experience for students,” she said.
Renee McCoy, a spokeswoman for the Wake County schools, said the state’s largest district will only give paper and pencil versions of the exams when some students start taking them Friday.
Honeycutt said they hope to have all the computer issues resolved by the time students take their exams this upcoming school year.
Honeycutt said that the online system had been working fine for the past three years, but a combination of factors may have contributed to the problems this school year. She said usage has been increasing as districts became more comfortable with offering the exams online.
A new change in state law also reduced the window during which the exams could be given. Honeycutt said that the combination of more exams being given online during a shorter time period may have overloaded the system.
Honeycutt said they still don’t know how many students were affected by the computer problems in January. School districts such as Wake County used alternatives to replace the exams, which account for 20 percent of the final grade.
But school officials say the issues are unrelated to the PowerSchool.