Changes to NC Students’ Tests Should Be Carefully Considered

We are closely following two bills at the North Carolina General Assembly that deal with standardized testing in schools: House Bill 377 and Senate Bill 621.

To ensure that your business has the skilled, qualified workers you need to grow both today and in years to come, North Carolina must take action to strengthen the talent pipeline along every stage—including K-12. Because we take a long view of the talent supply chain, it’s crucial to have measurable benchmarks. North Carolina’s standardized testing program, while worthy of examination and improvement, is one of those important benchmarks.

Any testing program in our state must be high quality and aligned with our strong academic standards. We appreciate efforts to start broader discussions about the testing program and think these bills could be a good start. However, there are several aspects of the House bill that are concerning.

House Bill 377, as drafted, is mainly focused on eliminating as many tests as possible. While we agree that each test given in the state should have a clear purpose, we would instead encourage solutions that balance the amount of time spent testing with the benefits gained.

The House bill would also eliminate End of Grade (EOG) tests administered at the end of 8th grade and replace them with a series of benchmark assessments throughout the year that cumulatively generate a student’s summative score. North Carolina has been testing a pilot program called NC Check-Ins that also uses a similar assessment schedule throughout the year, but there seems to be insufficient data proving the effectiveness of this testing strategy. Before committing to a full change like this, we would encourage the legislature to request better documentation from the Department of Public Instruction on their NC Check-Ins program and carefully consider the impact the change would have on students.

Finally, this bill would also eliminate the use of the ACT WorkKeys program, which is currently a key measurement factor used in the Certified Work Ready Communities program. These tests measure foundational skills that have a major impact on workforce readiness and should be preserved, especially as we work to ensure all counties in North Carolina have an accurate picture of the state of their workforce and employer needs.

The House passed HB 377 last week and sent it to the Senate, while the Senate’s testing bill was introduced last week. We will continue to monitor both pieces of legislation and encourage legislators to carefully consider how these policies could impact the quality of our workforce. For questions on these bills or any other education and workforce legislative priorities, please contact Andrew Meehan.

Sincerely,

Gary J. Salamido
Chief Operating Officer and Acting President
NC Chamber