No NC Final Exams for WCPSS

At their May 6 meeting, the North Carolina State Board of Education approved a waiver that allows WCPSS to not administer NC Final Exams at the end of this school year.

NC Final Exams are administered in courses that do not have a state end-of-grade or end-of-course exam.  This includes elementary, middle, and high school grades and courses in social studies, English language arts, science, and math.

The WCPSS waiver cites, “logistics, lost instructional time, and alignment/validity issues” as the reason for the request, especially in high schools.  A survey of WCPSS high school principals and teachers revealed a strong preference to “opt out and return to administering final exams created in their Professional Learning Teams.”

The change has the greatest impact for teachers.  The results of the NC Final Exams are used as part of teacher evaluations (Standard 6: Teachers Contribute to the Academic Success of Students).  NC Final Exams provide individual-teacher-level student-growth data.  In the absence of this specific teacher-level data, school-wide data will be used.  For elementary and middle schools, this will be a composite of all end-of-grade language arts, math, and science exams.  For high schools, this will be a composite of Math I, English II, and Biology.

The WCPSS waiver states that WAKE NCAE surveyed teachers to make sure that “evaluative consequences of the NCFE waiver…was completely understood.”  Not only did teachers understand the change, but “approximately 80 percent of respondents were comfortable with the move back to the use of school-wide data Standard 6 scores.”

The impact for students is very modest.  Elementary and middle schools simply won’t administer the exam.  As for high school students, most high schools in WCPSS are on the block schedule.  That means most high school students took final exams in January before starting a new semester.  Those students took NC Final Exams which counted a minimum of 20 percent toward the total course grade.  For students finishing up courses now, teacher-made exams final exams will fill the spot.

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