2,000 students sign up for state retest

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 12, 2016

By Rebecca Rider


SALISBURY — Nearly 2,000 Rowan-Salisbury students have signed up for an opt-in program that will give them the option to retest state end-of-year exams, school system officials have said.

Alesia Burnette, executive director of elementary education for the school system, said that this is the first time in several years that the state has offered students a retest. But the opportunity comes with several restrictions. Students choosing to retest must participate in at least four days of remediation offered by the school system. Remediation has to begin after the end of the school year, and all retests have to be scanned, scored and reported to Raleigh by June 30.

“We don’t have a lot of flexibility within that period of time,” Burnette said.

And they weren’t given a lot of time to pull it together, either. Districts received notice of the option in April, and scores for high schools didn’t come back until nearly the end of the school year.

The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education approved the remediation and retest for the district on April 12, and the system planned for three sites: Granite Quarry Elementary, Erwin Middle and East Rowan High School.

“We made a plan for something that we’ve never done before,” Burnette said.

At the time, system officials were only expecting a couple hundred students per school level. But nearly 2,000 signed up – that’s almost 10 percent of all students in the district. It’s more than the system was expecting, and Burnette said the program has run out of room, but the system decided not to open additional sites. Invitations were only sent out letters about the program to students who scored a one or a two on the exams. A three is considered proficient.

The decision to opt-in to the program was made by the student and their parents, Burnette said.

“We felt it was important for students to have an opportunity to retest if their families wanted them to,” Burnette said.

At the April meeting, Assistant Superintendent Julie Morrow said that some students may only miss proficiency by one or two questions – this would give those students another chance.

“It’s not a requirement, it’s an opportunity,” Burnette said.

Remediation and enrichment will begin Monday. Students will learn good test-taking strategies and will spend time focusing on subject matter for the tests they plan to retake. Testing begins June 20, and will be staggered throughout the week.

The system is providing transportation to the sites from all area high schools, but a digital remediation option is available as long as parents have signed an agreement to provide support from home. Students participating in digital remediation will still have to come to testing sites for the retest itself.

Students will be provided with free breakfast and lunch as part of the system’s summer feeding program. Burnette said the district had to “rearrange some spending and pull money from several different pots” in order to pay teachers helping with remediation and test administration.

In April, system officials estimated that the cost of the two-week program would be $35,000 in order to pay staff. Transportation was not included in that figure. An exact cost was not available at press time.

 Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.