Students and Families
As North Carolina has no opt-out procedure, families must refuse the tests. For the difference between opting out of tests and refusing them, see “Opting out” or “refusing”?
While there are no legal penalties for refusing the tests, at the moment, North Carolina state policy calls for refused tests to be graded as though they had been taken. This means that students who refuse the tests receive 1s, because their test sheets contain no correct answers. We are trying to convince members of the NC Board of Education and the NC Department of Public Instruction that this strategy is both inaccurate and unfair, but so far we have been unsuccessful.
State test scores are used for some promotion, placement and grading decisions. These vary by grade, school and district, and any family thinking about refusing state tests should independently research the potential consequences of having the lowest possible score (a 1) for each individual student.
A few examples (this is far from a comprehensive list):
• Grades on NC Final Exams count for at least 20 percent of high school course grades.
• The NC General Assembly has required all third graders to pass the reading End of Grade (EOG) test in order to avoid consequences such as retention or mandatory summer school. There are some exceptions, and some districts have received permission to use alternate measures. But reading EOG scores are especially significant for third graders, and families of third graders should be especially thorough in their research about potential consequences.
• In many districts, EOG scores are used in determining middle school math or language arts placements, so families of fifth graders need to make a thorough investigation of potential consequences.
• In Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, in order to enroll in a middle or high school IB magnet program, a student must receive at least a 2 on the EOG tests.
Because current state policy requires that refused tests be given the lowest possible score, refused tests count towards the requirement that schools test 95 percent of their students. However, it also means that the 1s given to refused tests are included in schools’ overall proficiency rates. As this is both inaccurate and unfair, we have asked the NC Board of Education and Department of Public Instruction to change this policy, to this point without success. We continue to work on this, and would love to hear from anyone who would like to help: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Because current state policy requires that refused tests be given the lowest possible score, the scores of 1 given to refused tests are calculated into the growth rates used to evaluate individual teachers. Again, as this is both inaccurate and unfair, we have asked the NC Board of Education and Department of Public Instruction to change this policy, currently without success. We continue to work on this, and would love to hear from anyone who would like to help: email@example.com.