10/31/13 McCrory: New standards bring lower pass rates

McCrory: New standards bring lower pass rates
The Associated Press The Times-News 10/31/13  
Reprinted with permission.

   RALEIGH — Gov. Pat McCrory is trying to brace North Carolina parents for a report next week showing fewer public school students passed statewide tests that are being graded under tougher new standards.

   McCrory on Wednesday told the state’s Education Cabinet the release of end-of-grade and end-of-course scores Nov. 7 will show fewer students and schools met proficiency requirements. This comes after the State Board of Education approved the higher achievement standards last month.

   The new standards will likely mean higher failure rates in most of the reading, math and science tests that students took last spring. The initial analysis shows a roughly 30 to 40 percentage-point drop in the passing rate on some tests during the 2012-13 academic year compared to the previous year.

   The new standards, which replace the ABCs of Public Education model approved in the mid-1990s, mean the performance of North Carolina children in grades 3 to 12 can be measured better against students in other states and other countries, the governor said.

   “We’ve got to remember that our teachers and our students didn’t suddenly decline overnight. They didn’t decline at all. They’ve not lost ground,” McCrory said. “We in North Carolina now are basically performing in a higher league.”

   The governor said he and other state officials must prepare the public for the lower passing rates. The scores won’t affect an individual student’s current placement in a grade. A similar upward adjustment in proficiency levels in the past decade also resulted in fewer students passing initially.

   Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson also has been speaking about the changes. State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey said Wednesday the test should still show growth in raw test scores, which he called a positive.