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For now, end-of-grade tests still planned in public schools

SALISBURY — The beginning of in-person classes on Monday brought many changes for public school students, but one thing is, so far, staying the same: public school students can still expect to take end-of-grade tests at the end of the semester.

Rowan Salisbury Schools Director of accountability Kelly Burgess said there have been no waivers issued and the tests are still part of state and federal requirements. All standardized testing was waived by the federal government for the previous semester after districts across the country were ordered to close.

RSS moved to virtual learning, though Burgess and Superintendent Lynn Moody said there were learning setbacks as a result. In some other districts learning was cut off completely in March.

RSS is starting this year off slowly as well. There will be no assessment-type assignments for the first two weeks of classes across the district as it adjusts to the blended A-and-B-day model put in place to comply with orders passed down by Gov. Roy Cooper. Moody said the district wants to start off the year by reconnecting with students.

Changes to testing are a possibility across the state. Though, Burgess said it’s unlikely there would be any modifications to the EOGs themselves because there is no precedent for such a change. If the district is still using a blended model by the end of the semester, Burgess said, it will be able to administer the tests to the two groups of students in a 10-day window.

The district is also delaying its renewal-prompted pilot programs for new competency-based assessments until next semester. The new method will involve small assessments called verifiers, which will be delivered electronically, to denote a student has mastered a certain concept or level of a subject.

Pilots for the new program were planned for this semester, but Burgess said the district is holding off amid the challenging start to school. The pilot for the verifiers is now planned for the spring semester, and the district will select an elementary, middle and high school to take on the new accountability measure.

The district has generally taken an anti-standardized testing stance. Moody has pointed out standardized tests were almost immediately waved at the federal level when the pandemic began to spread rapidly in the spring. A common critique is the tests to do not measure mastery of subjects and force all students in a class into the same block of content for a set period of time.

The district does not control supplemental SAT and ACT college entrance exams, but all high school juniors are still slated to take the ACT next semester.

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