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Published in Print: February 14, 2001, as A State Capitals Roundup

A State Capitals Roundup

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North Carolina Postpones High School Exam

The North Carolina board of education voted last week to delay its high school exit exam for two years to allow more time for field-testing. Beginning with the class of 2005, students will need to pass the test to earn a diploma.

The North Carolina board of education voted last week to delay its high school exit exam for two years to allow more time for field-testing. Beginning with the class of 2005, students will need to pass the test to earn a diploma.

The state will begin field tests on some test items this spring. Beginning in 2005, exit exam scores will also count toward each school's rating under the state's accountability program.

North Carolina is one of several states to postpone their exit tests amid concerns that students and teachers have not had enough time to prepare for the high-stakes measures. Some states that have already begun such testing are experiencing high failure rates among their students. ("States Adjust High-Stakes Testing Plans," Jan. 24, 2001.)

In North Carolina, the state is going ahead with its plan to end social promotion of academically unready students. That plan will require students— beginning with 5th graders this year, and 3rd and 8th graders next year—to pass a test at the end of the school year to advance to the next grade.

— Kathleen Kennedy Manzo


Minnesota Testing Program
Encounters Another Glitch

The Minnesota education department found a typo in its basic-skills reading test in time to alert school districts last week before 8th grade students took the exam.

The Minnesota Department of Children, Families, and Learning sent school and district officials a memo to inform them that the multiple-choice responses on one question were mislabeled. The item was among a group of questions being field-tested for possible use on future exams and will not count toward students' scores, said department spokeswoman Rachel Tschida.

But the news prompted dismay among state lawmakers, including Rep. Harry Mares, the chairman of the House education policy committee, who said he was unhappy to hear about another problem with the state's testing program. Last year, an error by testing company NCS Pearson of Eden Prairie, Minn., resulted in 47,000 incorrectly scored math tests and failing scores for 8,000 students who had actually passed. ("Minn. Extends Testing Contract Despite Scoring Mistakes," Sept. 6, 2000.)

Ms. Tschida characterized the latest problem as small, and she said new quality-control procedures instituted after last year's scoring problem allowed the department to catch the typographical error before exam day.

—Darcia Harris Bowman

Vol. 20, Issue 22, Page 26

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