Changes On The Way For North Carolina Public School Testing

Changes On The Way For North Carolina Public School Testing

3:33pm Jan 16, 2019
Superintendent Mark Johnson is laying out a plan to reform the system of "over-testing." He says the changes will "give the teachers the time to do what they entered the profession to do: teach." KERI BROWN/WFDD

North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson is introducing several initiatives to reduce testing in public schools. Education leaders have been waiting for the reforms, but say many questions remain.

The state Department of Public Instruction recently sent a survey to parents and teachers. More than 42,000 parents responded to the survey on testing. Of those who responded, 78 percent said their child takes too many tests. In addition, when teachers were asked what they thought of standardized testing, 76 percent said that North Carolina’s public school students were being tested too much.

Johnson says steps that will be taken this year include:

  • Reducing the number of questions on tests
  • Reducing the time students must sit for tests
  • Changing testing policies to reduce the stress at schools around testing time
  • Working with local leaders to reduce the number of locally required tests
  • Pushing to eliminate tests not required by Washington, D.C.
  • Giving students other ways to show progress if they have a bad test day
  • Using the appropriate amount of technology as a tool for students and teachers to personalize learning and eliminate tests

Ronda Mays, president of the Forsyth County chapter of the North Carolina Association of Educators, says while she’s pleased about the news, she concerned about the timeline.

“This is one of the big pieces he [Johnson] ran on. We are down the line here and it still hasn’t happened,” says Mays. “So what is going to be different? How are you going to make this happen and what time span? How long is it going to take before we actually see the results of this?”

Johnson says he’s already made some changes to public school testing under his leadership, and will be working with state educators on the new initiatives. 

“We are just getting started reforming testing in North Carolina’s public schools,” Johnson says. “The changes I am announcing today will be a major step in reducing outdated testing methods to measure students’ progress, and the future is bright for North Carolina’s public schools.”

Mays says the NCAE will discuss the new initiatives during their workshops this month. She says over-testing is one of many issues the group has been vocal about to state lawmakers in recent years.

*You can follow WFDD’s Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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