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Early data shows North Carolina students slipping on standardized tests for math, science


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    Raleight, North Carolina (WRAL) — Preliminary data from the North Carolina Department of Public Education shows students scored lower on state tests for math and science this fall compared to fall 2019.

About 24,000 tests, out of about 175,000 expected tests total, have yet to be completed. Students have until July 5 to take the end-of-course tests, so the department doesn’t consider the results so far to be comparable to last fall. But with 86.3% of tests administered so far, scores have been lower for Biology, Math 1 and Math 3.

The test results were revealed in the State Board of Education’s agenda for this Wednesday as part of a presentation on testing and accountability updates.

The state will plans to apply for a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education that would exempt the state from having to form new support plans based on this year’s testing data. With the waiver, the state would have to report certain data, including chronic absenteeism among students and student access to technology.

While education has looked markedly different during the pandemic, the U.S. Department of Education announced Feb. 22 it would continue to require standardized testing into the spring and would not grant states waivers of it — waivers different from what the state plans to seek, which pertains only to accountability. The department waived the standardized testing requirements last spring when schools quickly converted to remote learning shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic first arrived in the U.S. States have the option to extend testing into the fall.

This year has been hard for students, said Stan Winborne, assistant superintendent for Granville County Schools.

“They should be given credit for all that they’ve had to go through,” Winborne told WRAL News.

Still, he said, test results can be used to help “close the gap” in student success. And with teachers getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and more students returning to the physical classroom, Winborne thinks student performance and test scores will improve.

“I have a lot of confidence that our kids will come roaring back and rise to the challenge,” he said.

About 54.5% of students were not proficient in biology this fall, compared to 42.1% last fall. For Math 1, 66.4% of students were not proficient this fall, compared to 48.2% last fall. For Math 3, 54.9% weren’t proficient, compared to 44.5%.

Scores did not significantly change for English II test results.

The shares of students testing at the highest level — Level 5 — are also down so far. For biology, 9.7% of test takers scored at Level 5, compared to 17% last fall. In Math 1, 1.2% scored at Level 5, compared to 3.3%, and for Math 3, 8.9% scored at Level 5, compared to 13.7%.

Only about two-thirds of Beginning-of-Grade-3 exams have been administered so far, about 74,000 of the about 109,000 state officials expect to give. The window to administer the test ends March 12.

The Department of Public Instruction says the test results here are also not comparable to last fall, because the number of tests administered within the first 20 days of the school year was more than normal.

So far, 58.2% of third grade students scored at the lowest of the five levels for the test, compared to 49.8% last fall.

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