1984: The North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA) passes legislation to institute End of Course (EOC) tests in high schools.
1989: The NCGA passes legislation to institute End of Grade (EOG) tests in middle and elementary schools.
1992-3: The first EOG and EOC tests are administered.
1996-7: The NCGA establishes the School-Based Management and Accountability Program, known as the ABCs, based on EOG scores. It is one of the first such programs in the nation. Elementary and middle schools are rated based on overall proficiency and on growth. Staff at schools that meet certain targets receive bonuses.
1997-8: The ABC program is extended to high schools, based on EOC scores. A number of low-performing schools are targeted for state intervention teams.
2002: President George W. Bush signs a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Educational Act (ESEA), which passed Congress with bipartisan support and which will become known as the “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) Act. NCLB requires all states to
1) give statewide tests to students in grades 3-8, and in some high school classes
2) rate schools based on student performance
3) impose a federally devised set of penalties on schools deemed low performing
States commission their own tests and set their own standards. To ensure that all schools test all students, NCLB requires each school to reach a 95 percent participation rate. Each year, states must report each public school’s test scores to the federal government, using a formula known as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). By 2014, all public schools must reach a 100 percent proficiency rate or suffer penalties. As North Carolina already tests its students in the required areas, the state uses its existing tests.
2002-3: North Carolina administers the first tests subject to NCLB accountability requirements.
2010: North Carolina receives a Race to the Top (RTTT) grant from the US Department of Education. The grant’s conditions include a requirement that the state develop a teacher evaluation system that will evaluate every teacher “using multiple rating categories that take into account data on student growth as a significant factor.” The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) begins to develop additional tests to produce the required growth “data.”
2010-11: In an effort to pioneer test-focused teacher evaluation and the popular idea of paying teachers for “performance,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) Superintendent Peter Gorman institutes 52 new standardized tests for CMS students, including tests in math, reading, science and social studies for K-2 students. The results are to be used in a pay-for-performance system. Parents rebel, Gorman resigns and his successor drops the tests.
2012: Along with most other states, North Carolina receives a waiver from some of the NCLB requirements from the US Department of Education. Gridlock in Congress has made it impossible for Congress to pass a reauthorization of NCLB that would revise the unrealistic requirement that all US schools reach 100 percent proficiency rates by 2014. The waivers free states from AYP reporting requirements if they meet certain conditions regarding accountability, teacher evaluation and “college and career-ready expectations.” In its waiver request, NC officials highlights the additional state tests developed in response to the RTTT grant requirements.
2012-13: As a result of the state’s adoption of the Common Core Standards, NCDPI rolls out a new set of state reading, math and science tests aligned to the Common Core. The department also rolls out eight additional elementary and middle school exams and 28 additional high school exams, designed to gather data for teacher evaluations. This latter set of exams, initially called Measures of Student Learning (MSLs) become known as NC Final Exams (NCFEs). Starting in 2013-14, the high school NCFEs will count for at least 20 percent of a student’s course grade.
Evolution of the ABCs
North Carolina ESEA Flexibility Request, 24 May 2012