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State Board of Education Debates Testing & Accountability Relief Options

During its December monthly meeting, the State Board of Education heard updates from the Department of Public Instruction regarding testing and accountability requirements, and discussed options for providing schools with some relief from these requirements due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Board members shared the concerns of many school leaders and families regarding the requirement that at least 95 percent of all students participate in federally-required state assessments, as well as the requirement that End-of-Course exam results must count towards 20% of a student’s final grade. After much debate, the State Board ultimately recommended submitting a federal waiver request from the 95% testing requirement, and pushed further discussion of the 20% EOC grade requirement to the Board’s next meeting in January.

Despite the fact that many students will take EOC exams over the next few weeks, some State Board members were hesitant to administratively pause the 20% requirement due to concerns that it would remove student incentive to participate in EOCs. In his last State Board of Education meeting, State Superintendent Mark Johnson argued the State Board should take immediate action to remove the requirement, while Board Chair Eric Davis claimed the Board should wait to act until it has a better understanding of the federal 95% participation rate. Unfortunately, the current U.S. Department of Education has refused to grant waivers for the 95% requirement, and it was estimated the earliest the Biden administration could address the requirement would be mid-February. State Board leadership noted school districts could postpone EOC testing until the spring or even the summer; however, numerous school leaders have noted that such a delay in testing could result in a concerning decline in student test performance.

NCASA is continuing to seek relief on the EOC requirement and the federal waiver, as well as other state testing and accountability waivers for the 2020-2021 school year. These items will be included in our Legislative & Policy priorities to be finalized by the NCASA Board of Directors on December 11.