05/22/08 — Students face end-of-grade tests

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Students face end-of-grade tests

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 22, 2008 2:12 PM

It's crunch time for many students in Wayne County Public Schools.

End-of-grade tests -- the marker that measures not only children in grades 3 through 8, but teachers and schools as well -- are under way.

Testing started Tuesday in reading and math, with grades 5 and 8 also being scored in science. Some are still being tested today, with the remainder expected to finish on Friday, said Dr. Craig McFadden, assistant superintendent for accountability/student services.

Individual math scores will be out next week, he said.

"We'll scan them over Memorial Day weekend in reading and math, but the state has to analyze all reading (tests) because it's brand new," he said. "Parents will get math results on Tuesday. They'll be sent home with the kids. ...

"All of these grades, if the student does not score grade level or above, will have to be retested again next week. And if they don't score then, they'll have to go to a summer intervention program."

Reading test results typically take much longer, McFadden explained, since data is compiled by the state after all tests are in. Those scores, he said, aren't expected until late September or early October.

The delay means the summer school option mainly applies to those whose math scores were below par. Because the reading test results will come back after summer school concludes, McFadden said contingency plans are in place.

"Teachers are being asked to use their professional judgment to determine if students should go to summer school for reading," he said.

The tests are important, McFadden said, beyond their measure as a local district assessment.

Since 1983, reading and math tests have been used as a benchmark for the year. North Carolina started its own ABCs accountability program in 1997, followed in recent years by the federally mandated No Child Left Behind, which also required a testing component.

"These tests are used not only for the students -- to determine if they are on grade level -- but used for the ABCs for the state and No Child Left Behind," McFadden said.

Under No Child Left Behind, each year the criteria becomes more stringent, he said, as standards increase.

"It's always heading for the 2013-2014 school year when it's supposed to be 100 percent of students on grade level," he said. "So the pressure gets cranked up each year."

In addition to the elementary and middle grades' testing, high school students will be given end of course tests the last week of school, which starts June 2.