A bill (SB-114) to remove all state tests but those required by the federal government was passed by the Senate today and will now go to Gov. Perdue's desk for her signature.
The measure, spearheaded by Senator Austin Allran (R-Catawba) recently passed the House. The bill would eliminate four end-of-course tests for high school students – U.S. History, Civics and Economics, Algebra II and Physical Science.
The issue has created some interesting coalitions. Republicans who have been traditionally supportive of strong testing and accountability measures are leading the charge to eliminate the testing requirements. Teaching to the test is the most often heard criticism of the current system. Representatives from the North Carolina Association of Educators have joined Republicans in supporting the measure.
Proponents of the bill say they agree some testing is necessary to gauge academic progress. However, they aren’t sure the current ABC testing system is the right one. Another common complaint against many North Carolina tests is that they are not nationally-normed.
Meanwhile, many Democrats are lining up against the measure, saying testing is necessary to identify which schools are failing so resources can be distributed accordingly.
Interestingly, Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard Manning has said that dumping the state tests would violate a student’s rights under the state Constitution. Manning authored the famous Leandro v. State decision that all children have a constitutional right to a “sound, basic education. Manning has presided over a serious of cases that have sought to add clarity to the decision.
Complicating the current debate is North Carolina’s Race to the Top grant. Many believe, as currently written, the grant requires the state to continue using the current testing system. Under terms of the grants, North Carolina will receive approximately $350 million over four years.
It is not known whether Gov. Perdue will sign the bill.