Middle school students would take fewer end-of-year tests in science and social studies under recommendations made by a state education panel Tuesday.
The Education Oversight Committee (EOC) — which is responsible for setting academic standards in South Carolina — voted 8-5 to slightly reduce the number of tests students take from grades four through eight. If legislators approve, the tests would alternate between both subjects every year instead of having one for each.
EOC spokeswoman Dana Yow said the committee is trying to reduce the number of standardized tests that students take each year. “Over 18 months, the committee collected so much input from the public and various stakeholders that we really needed to be sensitive about how much testing we were doing of students,” she told South Carolina Radio Network. “That was something they heard over and over again.”
The Associated Press reports opponents on the committee worried the state’s standards would slide if there was no longer accountability in the two subjects. But Education Superintendent Molly Spearman believed the impact would be minimal and thought teachers would still follow the state standards.
Math and English testing were not impacted by Tuesday’s vote.
EOC members also voted unanimously to continue using a school ratings system without assigning letter grades. Education leaders had pushed back against a proposal that would have assigned letter grades from “A” through “F” to individual schools, instead of the current “excellent,” “good,” “average,” “below average” and “at-risk” ratings. One recommended change would be for the ratings to no longer be given to entire school districts and instead only to individual schools.
“The federal guidance that came through the (2015 Every Student Succeeds Act) does not require districts to receive a rating,” Yow said. “So the EOC wanted school districts to be able to really shape what they wanted to do for their own communities. As we all know, communities are very different in South Carolina. Some are rural, some are urban, some are a combination of both.”