ELIZABETHTOWN — The final days of the 2013-2014 school year are fast approaching and that means year-end test prep is underway at the schools. Teachers will spend the majority of May preparing students for year-end testing by reviewing what students have learned in the classroom so far and analyzing individual student assessments. Several schools are offering additional tutoring and remediation opportunities for students to help increase their academic success on year-end testing.
In compliance with federal law, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI) mandates all state testing. State Board of Education policy requires that students receive year-end tests within ten days before the last day of the school year if the course is a year-long course and within five days before the last day of the school year if the course is a semester-long course. Bladen County Schools received a one-day waiver from the NC DPI due to the extension of the school year because of the winter weather school closings.
For Bladen County, high school students will begin year-end testing June 6 with the final day of testing being June 13, the last day of school for students. High schools seniors will complete their testing by June to ensure those students have earned credit toward graduation. Elementary and middle school students will begin year-end testing June 2 through June 6 with make-up tests given June 5 and 6.
Students in grades three through five are required by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction to take End-of-Grade (EOG) exams in Mathematics and Reading.
In June 2010, North Carolina adopted the Common Core State Standards in Kindergarten through 12th grade Mathematics and Kindergarten through 12th grade English Language Arts released by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. With the adoption of these state-led education standards, NC is the first group of states to embrace clear and consistent goals for learning to prepare children for success in college and work.
The competency goals and objectives of the new Common Core mathematics curriculum for each grade are organized into five strands: Numbers and operations; Measurement; Geometry; Data Analysis and Probability; and, Algebra. Specific details can be found on the Bladen County Schools district website under the Curriculum and Instruction, Common Core web page at www.bladen.k12.nc.us
Reading comprehension is assessed by having students read authentic selections and then answer questions directly related to the selections. Knowledge of vocabulary is assessed indirectly through application and understanding of terms within the context of selections and questions. The authentic selections selected for the reading tests are chosen to reflect reading for various purposes such as literary experience, gaining information, and performing a task.
Effective with the 2013-2014 school year, third grade students will be required to pass the NC End-of-Grade Reading Comprehension Test for promotion to the next grade level as part of the new “Read to Achieve” legislative act. Students that do not pass the NC End-of-Grade reading test may be given a “Good Cause Exemption” for promotion to the next grade level based on student assessments and portfolio work. In 2012, the NC General Assembly passed the “Read to Achieve” section of the “Excellence in Schools Act” with improving NC Schools to take effect in the 2013-2014 school year.
Third-grade students that do not demonstrate mastery on the Reading EOG and have not demonstrated reading competency during the school year will be retained, according to the NC GOP “Excellence in Schools Act” law and “Read to Achieve” legislation. Summer school will be provided for these identified students for six-weeks beginning June 18 through Aug. 7. Classes will be half-day sessions.
Read to Achieve Summer School will focus on reading development, to include comprehension, vocabulary, and reading fluency. Students required to participate will be notified by the school administration. Parents may contact the school principal or teacher for additional information about the legislation and how it could affect their child in third grade.
Students in grades five and eight are required to take an EOG in Science. This test will be given June 5 and 6. The NC Science EOG assesses the new Essential Standards for Science. These tests require students to demonstrate knowledge of important principles and concepts, understand and interpret laboratory activities, and relate scientific information to everyday situations. In order to align with this curriculum’s focus on inquiry, these tests have an increased focus on processing information and higher-order thinking skills.
All other courses that are not part of the year-end EOG and/or EOC will administer a NC Final Exam (formerly called Measures of Student Learning: Common Exam) to students in grades sixth through twelve. These exams will be given June 6 through June 11.
High school students are administered End-of-Course (EOC) tests in Math I, English II, and Biology. The EOC tests are used to sample a student’s knowledge of subject-related concepts as specified in the Common Core standards and to provide a global estimate of the student’s mastery of the material in a particular content area. The NC EOC tests were initiated in response to legislation passed by the NC General Assembly – the NC Elementary and Secondary Reform Act of 1984.
Eighth-grade students enrolled in Math I (formerly Algebra I), will be given a Math I EOC during the week of June 9.
All high school final exams and EOC’s count as 20% of a student’s final mark for all courses. High School EOC tests are required by State Board of Education policy for all students taking courses with End-of-Course tests and who will be earning credit toward graduation. All Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses require state EOC post-assessments. All other courses must administer teacher-made final exams. The teacher-made and CTE post-assessments count as 20% of the final grade by the Bladen County Board of Education policy.
High school students taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses must take the AP exam. The College Board, who administers the test, requires a fee for the test similar to a student taking the SAT. AP course content, pace and academic rigor follow similar standards as specified by college level courses and as adopted by the College Board. AP courses are geared to enable students to pass the AP exam. The course provides credit toward a high school diploma. Students enrolled in these classes can be exempt from certain college freshmen courses based upon performance on the AP exam. The state’s weighting system adds the equivalent of two quality points to the grade earned in such courses. Failing marks are not weighted. Beginning with the 2013-2014 school year, the cost of the AP exam is the responsibility of the student.