GREENSBORO — Guilford County high school students will see a change to final exams next school year due to a new state law signed this week.
And some district middle school students may see less testing under the same measure, the “Testing Reduction Act of 2019,” signed Thursday by Gov. Roy Cooper.
One of the biggest changes in the law is it eliminates the N.C. Final Exams starting with the 2020-21 school year.
The exams are statewide standardized tests that are given in many academic subjects not part of the state’s main end-of-course or end-of-grade exams.
The N.C. Final Exams date back four years, and used to include some elementary courses, according to Guilford County Schools Interim Chief Academic Officer Whitney Oakley. The state used them to evaluate the effectiveness of teachers whose students weren’t taking EOCs or EOGs.
The state plans to come up with some other way of evaluating how those teachers are doing.
High school students next year who would have had to take an N.C. Final Exam will instead take a local final exam. It will still count for 20% of their grade, Oakley said.
Some middle school students have also had to take N.C. Final Exams, although they do not count for 20% of their grade. They won’t take those tests next year, or any special “local final exam.” Instead, they’ll be graded on other normal tests during the year as usual. It may wind up being less testing for some middle school students due to the change, Oakley said.
She welcomes the change because she thinks teachers will be able to get more out of using local tests. With state tests, Oakley said, teachers can’t just look to see how each student did on each question and get quick feedback that helps the teachers improve.
She said departments at the various high schools will set their new exams, drawing on curriculum materials the district provides. Students, she said, may notice in 2020-21 that their final exams are more similar to the regular tests teachers gave them throughout the year.