Student Accountability Standards Frequently Asked Questions

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Student Accountability Standards
Frequently Asked Questions

        Roles & Responsibilities

What are the student accountability standards?

        Gateway 1 - In addition to meeting local promotion requirements, students at grade 3 shall
         demonstrate proficiency by having test scores at Level III or above on end-of-grade tests in both
         reading and mathematics. Implementation year: 2001-02
        Gateway 2 - In addition to meeting local promotion requirements, students at grade 5 shall
         demonstrate proficiency by having test scores at Level III or above on end-of-grade tests in both
         reading and mathematics, and make adequate progress in writing, as determined by the 4th grade
         writing assessment with a score of 12 or above. Implementation year: 2000-01
        Gateway 3 - The Middle School Standard - Students shall demonstrate proficiency by having test
         scores at Level III or above on end-of-grade tests in both reading and mathematics, meet all local
         promotion requirements, and make adequate progress in writing, as determined by the 7th grade
         writing assessment with a score of 12 or above. Implementation year: 2001-02
        Gateway 4 - The High School Standard - Effective with the class entering ninth grade for the first
         time in the 2006-2007 school year, students who are following the career preparation, college technical
         preparation, or college/university preparation course of study shall meet the following new exit

             o    perform at Achievement Level III or above on the end-of-course assessment for English I,
                  Algebra I, U.S. History, Biology, and Civics and Economics; and

             o    successfully complete a graduation project that is developed, monitored, and scored within the
                  LEA using state-adopted rubrics

         Students will continue to be required to demonstrate computer proficiency by passing the computer
         skills assessment.

         Students following the Occupational Course of Study are required to meet rigorous exit standards as
         outlined in State Board of Education policy HSP-N-004 (16 NCAC 6D. 0503).

How did the State Board of Education develop the student accountability

The State Board of Education (SBE) sought input from teachers, parents, principals, students, education
organizations and other associations, business leaders and other stakeholders. Based on input from the various
groups, NCDPI staff drafted the policy that was approved by the SBE on April 1, 1999.

The student accountability standards rely heavily on the end-of-grade/end-
of-course tests. Were these tests designed to be used this way?

The tests are one factor in promotion. Some have described them as the "screen" that gauges a child's needs.
Other factors teachers and principals will use if students are not at grade level on the state tests are
documentation of other work, portfolios and their professional judgment. These evidences of student work may
be considered in the final promotion decision. The courts have determined that the end-of-grade/end-of-course
tests can be used to grade and promote students in North Carolina but may not be used as the sole determining

How does the student accountability standards affect the diploma a student
receives when he/she graduates from a NC public school?

The student accountability standards raise the achievement level North Carolina students must meet to graduate.

Why were grades 3, 5, 8, and 12 chosen as the grades for these standards?

Grade 3 is the first year that students participate in end-of-grade tests; thus, this is the earliest opportunity to
determine a student's proficiency based on the statewide testing results. Grade 5 is the gateway to middle
school, while grade 8 is the gateway to high school. By grade 12, students should be able to demonstrate their
readiness to enter a two/four-year community college or university, the military, and/or work.

Does this mean that students in other grade levels who are required to take
end-of-grade assessments or students who are enrolled in other courses
that require an EOC assessment do not have to meet proficiency standards?

Local promotion policies are in effect for other grade levels and courses that have EOC assessments; the state
standards apply to grades 3, 5, 8 and the five courses required for graduation that have EOC assessments (i.e.
Algebra I, English I, Biology, Civics and Economics, and U.S. History).

How long can a student be retained at any grade?

The State Board decided to let local boards of education determine how many times students can be retained.

Gateways 1, 2, and 3 are based on performance in reading, writing, and
mathematics. Why are these subjects chosen?

The General Assembly and the State Board of Education are concerned about the number of students who are not
at grade level in basic skills of reading, mathematics, and writing. Since the implementation of the ABCs
program, the number of students performing at grade level has increased. But there still are many students who
are not achieving at an acceptable level. Reading and mathematics are core, foundation skills on which other
learning is based. That is why these standards are directed at reading and mathematics in grades 3, 5 and 8 and
writing at grades 5 and 8.

Why does the new high school exit standards EOC assessment requirement
include two social studies assessments?

The assessment requirements are made up of the five courses that all students following the career preparation,
college technical preparation or college/university preparation course of study must take and receive credit for
prior to graduation.

Do the student accountability standards apply to exceptional children and
students identified as limited English proficient (LEP)?

Yes. The student accountability standards apply to exceptional children and students identified as limited English
proficient. Testing options are available for exceptional children and students identified as LEP.

For more information, see the publication Testing Students with Disabilities and Testing
Students Identified as Limited English Proficient
Do the student accountability standards apply to charter schools?

Yes. The standards do apply to students in charter schools.

Do these standards apply to students enrolling in a North Carolina public
school from a home or private school?

Yes. The standards apply to all students who enroll in North Carolina public schools.

How do the accountability standards affect students who enroll from
another state during the school year?

The student accountability standards apply to all students who enroll in a NC public school from another state.
Local school district operational procedures for testing and grade classification of these students will apply.

Why do some call this the end to social promotion?

Social promotion is the practice of promoting students from grade to grade regardless of whether they have
mastered the appropriate material and are academically prepared to do the work at the next level. The student
accountability policy calls for an end to the need for social promotion. It is designed to ensure that all students
reach proficiency and therefore are adequately prepared for the next grade level. The policy requires local boards
of education to report annually on their progress in increasing the number of students who meet the standards.
Percentages of students at or above grade level proficiency and those who have moved from Level I to Level II
will be used to compare progress.

How have the student accountability standards helped students who are at
risk of dropping out?

Any student scoring at Level I or II on end-of-grade or end-of-course tests or who shows indicators of potential
failure is identified as a student at-risk. Schools have put many intervention programs and policies in place that
are resulting in students achieving at higher levels. Based on data, more students are reaching grade level
proficiency than ever before.

Can local districts have standards that are higher than the state standards?

Yes. Local boards of education can establish higher standards than the state's.

How do student accountability standards tie into the ABCs school
accountability program?

Student accountability standards are considered to be the next level of accountability in the ABCs. The ABCs
moved accountability from the district to the school level, and the student accountability standards resulted in
students and their parents being more accountable for performance.

How will graduation projects be managed at the local level, be consistent
across schools and districts, and be used by universities, community
colleges and/or employers?

Local districts will decide how to manage graduation projects. To ensure consistency of implementation across
schools and districts, an implementation guide will be distributed from the North Carolina Department of Public
Instruction to the local districts. In addition, required professional development in the four components of the
graduation project will be provided for school-based teams\ beginning in the Spring of 2006.
The standardized transcript includes a space for recording graduation project completions. Universities,
community colleges, and/or employers may require a student to provide a copy of his/her transcript when
applying for admission or employment.

When will students have the opportunity to be retested on an end-of grade
or end-of-course test?

Students scoring below Level III with one standard error of measurement on an end-of-grade or who end-of-
course test will be given the opportunity to retest within 3 weeks from the receipt of test results. A student will
have up to two opportunities for retesting.

Is there an opportunity to be retested in writing at gateways 2 and 3?

No. The principals and teacher(s) shall use locally developed and scored writing samples during grades 5 and 8 to
determine if students have made adequate progress in order to be promoted to the next grade. The writing tests
are screens to determine whether students need focused intervention.

What is focused intervention?

A key component of the student accountability standards is focused intervention, getting help to students who do
not meet the standard. Intervention may occur during or after the school day, on Saturdays, during breaks in
year-round schools or in summer school. Students in grades 3, 5 and 8 who still do not meet the standards may
be retained if the principal determines that is the best course of action. In high school, students who do not meet
the standard on one of the 5 required EOC assessments (i.e.; Algebra I, English I, Biology, Civics & Economics,
and US History) may be required to repeat the course associated with the EOC. There must be a review process
in place locally.

When and how is intervention provided for end-of-grade and/or end-of-
course assessments?

All students must be provided focused intervention prior to the second retest opportunity. When and how to
provide focused intervention is a local decision. Assessment of student learning should be ongoing in every class.

Strategies may include but are not limited to: alternative learning models, special homework, smaller classes,
tutorial sessions, extended school day, Saturday school, modified instructional programs, parental involvement,
summer school instruction, retention and others. More instructional time and/or smaller class size appear to be
the primary strategies.

Must a child be retained if he/she does not score at or above 12 on the
writing test at grades 4 and 7?

No. The writing test is a screen to identify students who need writing intervention. Teachers should continually
assess writing progress throughout an entire school year. The writing tests serve as an indicator as to what type
and amount of extra help a student needs. Writing is one indicator a teacher uses to determine promotion from
the 5th grade to the 6th grade and from the 8th grade to the 9th grade.

When must focused intervention for writing take place?

State Board of Education policy requires that focused intervention for writing must occur at the 5th and 8th
grades. However, that doesn't mean that intervention cannot take place immediately after the test administration
and during summer school. The 5th and 8th grade teachers also must give extra assistance and continued writing
instruction. The amount and type depends on the students' needs.

What money may be used for focused intervention?

Funds PRC 69 and PRC 72 can both be used by LEAs to develop focused intervention for students. The use of
these funds is a local decision, (e.g., after-school programs, summer school, tutoring, etc).
When may a parent request a review?

A parent may request a review after the second or third administration of an end-of-grade or end-of-course test,
but not both.

When does an individual student's review process end?

The decision by the principal, based upon the review committee's recommendation(s) and local school district
operational procedures, will denote the end of the review process.

According to the State Board of Education policy, when are PEPs required?

PEPs are required at the elementary, middle, and high school levels for students who do not meet level III with
one standard error of measurement or above on an end-of-grade or end-of-course test required as part of the
accountability standards. In addition, the school is required to keep documentation (e.g., a portfolio) of the
student's performance. The PEP and documentation is placed on file after the first retest (Retest 1), used during
focused instruction, is updated after the second retest (Retest 2), and is used by the committee during the review

Must you have a Personalized Education Plan (PEP) for a student who does
not score a 12 or above on the fourth or seventh grade writing test?

It is not mandated. For the State Board of Education's purposes, focused intervention must take place at the fifth
and eighth grades. Teachers should continue ongoing assessment of writing.

What are the components of a Personalized Education Plan (PEP)?

A PEP should consist of: (1) a diagnostic evaluation of a student's strengths and weaknesses, (2) intervention
strategies which include extra assistance beyond the classroom, acceleration of learning, and extra help, and (3)
monitoring strategies which include a variety of assessments including writing samples reviewed on a regular

Who prepares the Personalized Education Plan (PEP) for students?

It is a local decision. It is recommended that a team of teachers and instructional support personnel develop the
plan. The team members should know the student's strengths and needs. If the PEP is for a student with
disabilities, the IEP (Individualized Education Program) team must be involved.

Where is the PEP stored?

The PEP should be stored in a place that is easily accessible to the teacher(s) who are instructing the student. It
should be a roadmap to guide student instruction.

Should exceptional children have PEPs in addition to IEPs?

Yes. The IEP and PEP are two separate documents intended to serve different purposes. However, they can be
combined if everyone involved understands that they are combined. If an IEP serves as a PEP, the IEP must
include the three components of the PEP: diagnosis, intervention, and monitoring. Additionally, it must include
components of the IEP including the student's needs due to his or her disability. Combining an IEP and PEP is a
local decision. Documentation must be a part of the IEP and PEP development, and parents and school personnel
should understand that they are combined.
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