Education

NC Gov. Roy Cooper signs law eliminating more than 20 tests given to students

More than 20 North Carolina state exams will disappear, and several other changes are coming to reduce how many tests students are given.

Gov. Roy Cooper announced Thursday that he had signed into law the “Testing Reduction Act of 2019,” which calls for reducing the number of state and local standardized tests given in schools. The biggest change is the elimination of the N.C. Final Exams beginning in the 2020-21 school year.

“North Carolina needs to be able to assess how our schools are performing and how well students are learning,” Cooper said in a statement Thursday. “A reasonable assessment system that gives teachers and parents accurate information without sacrificing accountability should help children learn without over testing.”

The announcement comes a day after state education officials released 2018-19 test results for every public school.

Cooper also signed legislation to implement Marsy’s Law, the state constitutional amendment approved last year by voters to give more rights to crime victims. Cooper also announced he had signed a bill that calls for studying the impact of sports betting.

The testing reduction bill approved in August by state lawmakers comes in response to the long-voiced complaints that students are over-tested.

The new law:

Eliminates the N.C. Final Exams, which are more than 20 state tests given to students of teachers who can’t use another state exam to evaluate their performance. The tests are given in a range of grades, mainly in high school.

Requires school districts to reduce the number of local tests they give if students spend more time on them than state exams;

Prohibits school districts from requiring students to do a high school graduation project unless they provide up to $75 in local funding to reimburse costs spent by low-income students. The project involves students researching and writing a paper.

Calls for a study of the new N.C. Personalized Assessment Tool, which the state will test over the next five years to replace the end-of-grade tests given in reading and math in grades 3-8. Instead of a big test in each subject at the end of the school year, students will receive three shorter tests per subject during the year.

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T. Keung Hui has covered K-12 education for the News & Observer since 1999, helping parents, students, school employees and the community understand the vital role education plays in North Carolina. His primary focus is Wake County, but he also covers statewide education issues.
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