Panel: Teachers Want Fewer Tests in NC Schools

Abridged Version of Article from the…

RALEIGH, N.C. — The standardized tests used in North Carolina public schools should cover fewer subjects, but subjects that remain should be covered more intensely, a state commission said Wednesday.

“The (tested) curriculum is too wide and not deep enough,” said Sam Houston.

But complaints have simmered for years that teachers and students spend too much classroom time preparing for standardized tests. A student entering the third grade now could take more than 30 standardized tests before graduation, according to information provided by Houston.

The state also should consider reworking tests to provide more diagnostic information to teachers about a student’s academic shortcomings so that they know how to help them better, the commission said.

The panel, which met for several months at the request of the education board, heard from critics who said the test results offer very little beyond comparisons with schools in North Carolina and with other states.

“Teachers are saying they’re overwhelmed. They don’t feel like they’re getting the support from Raleigh,” said Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, and a commission member. “The system and the tests we’re using do not tell them anything from an analytical standpoint in dealing with their students.”

But the commission wants to end standardized writing tests in grades 4, 7 and 10 and an eighth-grade computer literacy test.

High school tests in physical science, chemistry and physics also would no longer be a part of the testing accountability program, according to Houston. A ninth-grade English test would be replaced with one for the 10th grade.

One of the most common mistakes of leadership is the failure to stay connected to the voices at the point of action. What I like the most about the panel’s recommendations is that it is listening to teachers rather than reigning down from on high.

When it becomes time to cut to the chase, will the same be true for the state BOE and the General Assembly? Closer to home . . . how well do we as school leaders listen to teacher voices?

On reform initiatives, how well do we involve others? How well do we build grassroots support and influence? Consensus and ownership is ultimately what will make or break a roll-out. They engender trust and common cause.

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