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NC Students Must Take In-Person Exams, But School Letter Grades Are Waived

Ann Doss Helms
A school bulletin board posted before 2019 exams notes the limits of standardized testing.

North Carolina recently got a federal waiver from some year-end testing requirements, but that doesn’t mean students can skip those exams.

The federal waiver means North Carolina is not required to issue school letter grades, school report cards or low-performing school labels based on student test scores this year. But unlike last spring, when the exams themselves were canceled because of the pandemic, students will have to take state exams in May.

And they’ll have to come to school to do that, even if they’ve been learning remotely all year. Accountability Director Tammy Howard told the state Board of Education on Wednesday it’s not practical to ensure testing security from students’ homes.

Board Chair Eric Davis of Charlotte says one question remains unresolved: "I’ve received a number of emails with great interest from students and parents about the weight of the assessments toward student grades."

State Superintendent Catherine Truitt told Davis she’ll bring a recommendation on that quickly.

It’s up to the General Assembly to cancel the school letter grades, school report cards and low-performing labels this year. A bill was introduced Tuesday to do that.

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Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.