09/08/04 — Proposal to make passing grades a little tougher

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Proposal to make passing grades a little tougher

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on September 8, 2004 2:03 PM

Some Wayne County students will have to achieve higher test scores to go to the next grade, if the Board of Education approves new standards for promotion.

There are three major changes. If approved, students in grades 4, 6, and 7 must have test scores at or above Level III on their end-of-grade tests in both reading and mathematics and demonstrate satisfactory classroom performance to be promoted to the next grade.

The previous policy required that standard for only grades 3, 5, and 8, and studies have shown that students in those grades did 5 percent better. That is why the standards have been raised for the other grades, said Dr. Sandra McCullen, associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction with Wayne County Public Schools.

She presented the new standards Tuesday to the board's curriculum and instruction committee. The committee recommended approval. They will be presented to the full school board on Monday.

Students performing at Level III are performing at their grade level, have consistently demonstrated mastery of the subject matter and are ready to move on to the next grade. Students at any level below Level III are not performing at their grade level, she said.

"We are setting the bar high for our kids," said Dr. Steve Taylor, superintendent of schools.

The second major change is that high school students must pass both the reading and math components of the N.C. Comprehensive Test to be promoted to 11th grade. Students who do not pass either component must complete a principal-approved intervention program in order to be eligible for promotion.

There was no previous standard in place for this and it applies to the federal No Child Left Behind law, she said.

The third change is that high school students who have met all other requirements for receiving course credit will receive credit only if they perform at Level III on end-of-course tests. Students not at that level will receive a final grade no higher than a 69. There was no previous policy on this either, she said.

If students have an average of 70 or higher in a course after taking the tests, but fail to achieve Level III, they will take a different form of the test before the end of school. It will give them another chance to achieve Level III, although they will still receive the grade from the first test. They will have three opportunities overall to reach that level, said Dr. McCullen.

The student accountability draft has been reviewed by parents, teachers and administrators and is revised when the N.C. Board of Education policies are revised, she said.