On November 7, the North Carolina State Board of Education will release student test
data from the 2012-2013 school year. These test results are from testing completed in
May and June of 2013. This release is almost six months after students in McDowell
County and across the state completed testing. This test data reflects a major change in
North Carolina’s accountability measures. The data is based on the new North Carolina
Standard Course of Study in Reading and Math. The tests were developed by the state to
be used for just two years until the planned transition to the Smarter Balanced
assessments, which will be given by multiple states beginning in 2014-15. The results
are also reflective of new achievement standards that are much higher than on prior EOG
and EOC exams, as well as different item-types and questions that included higher order
thinking skills. As a result, scores across North Carolina have fallen tremendously from
those in previous years. Depending on the grade level, the percentage of students scoring
as proficient dropped 16-25 percent in reading, 27-44 percent in math, and 9-33 percent
in science statewide.
Some points to consider when examining this year’s test scores:
• North Carolina public school students are now required to meet a higher standard of proficiency
on their End-of-Grade (EOG) and End-of-Course (EOC) tests.
• In the past, proficiency standards only addressed what students needed for success at the next
grade level. The new proficiency standards address how ready students are for college and careers,
and whether students are on track to be ready by high school graduation.
• Whenever new standards are set, test score results indicate a drop at first.
• It is important to note that students continued to grow academically in 2012-13, even though the
tougher achievement standards will show fewer students meeting the standard. These new scores
simply mean that we are expecting students to reach higher levels of learning than ever before.
• North Carolina has experienced decreases in proficiency levels when new standards have been set,
at least twice before in the last two decades.
• Just as in the high jump, when an athlete clears the bar, it must be raised. The athlete will miss the
bar the first few tries, but will eventually clear the higher bar, and it will be raised again.
• Properly aligned assessments give everyone a clearer picture of how well students are prepared to
enter college and the work force. We must have this picture in order to support student learning
and improvement and to support teachers.
• It is extremely important to note that in this transition year, these scores will NOT affect students’
grades or current placement. The 2012-13 scores are a baseline for the new assessments and the
state’s new accountability model.
• It is ineffectual to compare this year’s scores with last year’s scores as apples to apples. The tests
administered in 2012-13 were different. They measured NEW content standards. These new
scores have established a new baseline for proficiency.
• North Carolina is not alone in this transition. New York and Kentucky were the first two states to
go through this, as they implemented their new assessments in 2011-12 and experienced similarly
dramatic drops last fall. Many states across the country will report similar results this fall,
reflecting the adoption of more rigorous standards in many states.
For McDowell County, test results show students grew at rates comparable to state
averages or slightly above state averages in reading and math in most grade levels, while
science growth tends to be slightly above the state average in both 5th and 8th grade.
Additional data shows that all across North Carolina and McDowell County student
performance tends to reflect lower test scores. However, student growth from the 2011-
12 school year to the 2012-13 school year was consistent. Student growth is the result of
the dedication and hard work taking place in every school. McDowell County Schools
will remain focused on this growth to ensure students are prepared to move forward with
success, regardless of what they choose to pursue.
As the Interim Superintendent, I understand the importance of providing a quality
education for every student. This district is not satisfied with the current status and
stands committed to improve all aspects of McDowell County Schools. This can be
accomplished by partnering together with students, their families, the community, and
our staff. If all work together with a common focus, students will benefit.
Thank you for supporting McDowell County Schools.
Mark R. Garrett