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Education/Public Instruction Committee Substitute Adopted 5/24/07




Short Title:     Modify School Testing & Accountability Prog.




Referred to:


March 26, 2007



The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:

SECTION 1.  The General Assembly finds that, just a few years ago, North Carolina had one of the leading testing and accountability programs in the nation.  The ABCs of Public Education were simple, fair, and equitable, and both educators and the public had a high degree of confidence in the annual results generated by this testing and accountability program.  Today, however, there are serious concerns about the validity and reliability of the data that are produced.  The data from the Accountability Services Division of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction are so important to the success of children, teachers, and schools that any questioning of the validity and reliability of the data must be taken very seriously. For these reasons, the Department of Public Instruction is hereby directed to:

(1)       Study the need to make the following changes to the ABCs of Public Education:

a.         Count as proficient for the school's and local school administrative units' ABCs performance composite and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) purposes any student who scores within the standard error of measure (SEM) of Level 3 on an end-of-grade test (EOG) or end-of-course (EOC) test or any retest of an EOG or EOC.

b.         Count only those students who have been enrolled in the school for 140 days or more when calculating the schools' performance composite.

c.         Use an EOC or EOG test for field testing purposes only and not for the ABCs performance composite or AYP if the cut scores for those tests were not determined prior to their administration.

d.         Convene a group of school accountability experts to review the data collection procedures used for the 2006-2007 school year and make any needed changes to those procedures prior to any further data collection. This group shall make recommendations regarding the capacity of the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to perform this data collection including whether or not DPI needs additional personnel for this work.

e.         Use fourth, seventh, and tenth grade writing test results for instructional purposes only and remove them from the ABCs.

f.          Provide the scale scores and proficiency in both the old standard and the new standard for a one-year transition period when a test is rescaled to meet higher standards.

g.         Provide goal summary reports for all administrations of the Online Computer Skills Test.

h.         Provide student level diagnostic information on all State assessments.

i.          Before students are subjected to new assessments, provide sample tests and questions so teachers will be knowledgeable of the nature and forms of new assessments. Regular release of forms of assessments should be provided to local school administrative units for use as benchmark assessments. Provide sample tests and questions so teachers are knowledgeable of the nature and forms of new assessments before students are subjected to new assessments. Regularly release forms of assessments to local school administrative units to use as benchmarks.

j.          Provide an electronic system of tracking students during their enrollment in North Carolina public schools. This system should provide all the rules and nuances of tracking students for graduation purposes, including who is counted, who is not counted, diploma students, certificate students, and a process for when a school closes or a new school opens.

k.         Define the High School Cohort Graduation Rate so that it includes students who complete their graduation requirements in five years or less and also includes those students who choose to complete their high school diploma or GED at a community college within this five years.

l.          Develop a new formula for the ABCs growth calculation and the payment of bonuses. Consider using outside experts to develop the formula or issue a Request for Proposals (RFP).

m.        Fund an accountability director for each local school administrative unit.

n.         Fund testing coordinator positions in the schools based on one testing coordinator for each 2,000 students.

(2)       Develop a proposal for a new testing and accountability plan for implementation no later than the 2009-2010 school year as follows:

a.         Develop a new curriculum which limits learning objectives at each grade level to only those that are of undisputable importance and can be successfully taught and accurately assessed in the time available, and that measure cognitive skill mastery rather than memorized facts.

b.         Construct all assessment tasks, such as selected response or constructed response to require the students to employ:

1.         Cognitive skills;

2.         The evaluative criteria that will be used to judge their response; or

3.         Both of these.

c.         Require that the construction of assessment items be done by experts in the field. The number of items per learning outcome should be sufficient to provide instructional information back to the school and the teacher. The number of test items should be limited to that number that can reasonably be completed in a 90-minute setting or less depending on the grade level of the student.

d.         Create companion assessment descriptions that spell out the essence of what is measured by State test items or tasks. The teacher would be able to ensure alignment of instruction to assessment, and students would have a depth of cognitive skills rather than a surface knowledge of memorized facts.

e.         Establish an expert review panel of teachers and specialists for each test developed. The test items and descriptions should receive a review at a level of difficulty commensurate with the intended use of the test.

SECTION 2.  There is appropriated from the General Fund to the Department of Public Instruction the sum of four million four hundred nine thousand nine hundred sixty-six dollars ($4,409,966) for the 2007-2008 fiscal year and the sum of seven million one hundred sixty-three thousand three hundred five dollars ($7,163,305) for the 2008-2009 fiscal year to implement the first two years of the three-year Focused Education Reform Pilot Program in five local school administrative units.

Participating local school administrative units shall be selected based on hard-to-staff criteria, geographic diversity, continuing low performance, and high-risk student population.  The pilot program shall incorporate targeted professional development, after-school programming, teacher recruitment and retention bonuses, principal achievement bonuses, teacher mentoring, and science and math instructional assistance.

SECTION 3.  There is appropriated from the General Fund to the Department of Public Instruction the sum of five hundred fifty thousand dollars ($550,000) for the 2007-2008 fiscal year and the sum of five hundred fifty thousand dollars ($550,000) for the 2008-2009 fiscal year to establish the Office of Professional Development under the State Board of Education.  The Office shall catalogue current professional development opportunities, examine new professional development opportunities, and ensure that all local school administrative units are aware of available professional development opportunities.  The Office shall also develop standards for evaluating professional development providers and provide technical advice to local school administrative units in order to ensure that professional development expenditures align with local needs.

SECTION 4.  This act becomes effective July 1, 2007.