NEWS RELEASES 2013-14 :: OCTOBER 03, 2013


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North Carolina students now have a higher proficiency standard to meet on the state's end-of-grade and end-of-course tests. New standards today were approved by the State Board of Education to bring expectations for student performance in line with current career and college expectations.

When the 2012-13 test results are provided to parents, schools and districts in November, results will be much lower than North Carolina has seen for a number of years. Local school and district scores will be released on Thursday, Nov. 7, at the State Board of Education's monthly meeting in Raleigh.

"The test results from last year will give us a baseline measurement for our students as we move forward," said State Superintendent June Atkinson. "We fully expect proficiency levels to steadily increase as teachers and students acclimate to the new content standards and expectations. Other states, most notably Kentucky and New York, have had the same experience in raising standards and have seen a bounce back in subsequent years."

State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey noted that it is important for North Carolinians to have assessments that give everyone a clear picture of how well students are prepared for today's jobs and careers. "It is important for us to stand behind our students and teachers," he said. "We know that, with our support, they will rise to meet these new expectations."

The process of establishing cut scores on each end-of-grade test came after weeks of analysis and work with classroom teachers to identify standard levels. The goal is to sharpen the focus on what students need to be successful after high school graduation. In the past, North Carolina's achievement levels were more focused on what students needed to be successful at the next grade level.

Based on NC Department of Public Instruction analyses, schools and parents will see drops as high as 30 to 40 percentage points in terms of the percentage of students scoring proficient or above. For students, these scores will not affect their grades or their current placement. The 2012-13 school year is considered a transition or baseline year for these new assessments and the state's new accountability model.

"North Carolina students didn't lose ground in their learning last year, but they are being measured against a higher standard with more rigorous expectations for applying knowledge and skills to real-world problems," said State Superintendent Atkinson. "In order for our students to be competitive upon graduation, we have an obligation to expect more from them."

The 2012-13 assessment results are not comparable to prior years' scores. The tests are different and measure new content standards. North Carolina's revised Standard Course of Study was implemented for the first time in 2012-13. The assessments reflected in the new standards were given to students for the first time in the 2012-13 school year.

The anticipated statewide impact of the new proficiency standards is illustrated in this chart (xls, 55kb). The chart shows the percentage of students likely to be proficient by grade level and assessment. Actual results at school and district levels will vary. North Carolina students take state assessments in English Language Arts and mathematics in grades 3-8; science end-of-grade assessments in grades 5 and 8; and three high school courses - Algebra I/Math I; Biology and English II.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.