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COVID-19: NC may let students take EOG, EOC tests at home

Some North Carolina students may be able to take their state standardized tests at home next spring instead of on campus.

Students are currently required to take state end-of-grade (EOG) and end-of-course (EOC) tests at school to meet federal testing security requirements that show the exams are valid and reliable. But state Department of Public Instruction officials said Wednesday they’re considering administering those state exams at home next spring using virtual proctoring.

The state would need federal permission for at-home student testing.

But Tammy Howard, director of accountability services at the state Department of Public Instruction, said the idea was presented at Wednesday’s State Board of Education meeting to let board members know it’s being explored.

“We do not know what the situation will be in the spring, and we are trying to be flexible and are prioritizing student health and safety,” Howard said in an email. “Considering the feasibility of at-home testing is one example of flexibility, but at this point, there is not a final decision or a given as to what will happen.”

The U.S. Department of Education requires that states test their students as a way to hold schools accountable. North Carolina received federal and state legislative waivers to not give the EOG and EOC tests last spring due to the pandemic.

The majority of North Carolina school districts are using remote instruction only for the start of the school year due to COVID-19 concerns. But districts are expected to resume in-person classes at some point in the school year.

Adjusting testing for online learning

Howard told the state board on Wednesday that DPI is making adjustments such as letting students take the NC Check-Ins at home. The Check-Ins are a series of tests that some districts give their students throughout the year to see how well they’re doing. But they aren’t officially part of the state testing program.

Last month, the state board approved a plan saying schools didn’t have to give EOGs and EOCs until after students return for in-person classes. Districts that are still using remote classes can also have students report for tests at a school sanctioned site that meets the Department of Health and Human Services requirements.

Even when schools resume in-person classes, there are hundreds of thousands of students who may stay in virtual classes all school year. Some families don’t want to return to school before a COVID-19 vaccine is developed.

“It may be that at-home administrations are not possible for standardization, security and technical reasons,” Howard said. “We will be as responsive as possible given the current situation.”

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T. Keung Hui has covered K-12 education for the News & Observer since 1999, helping parents, students, school employees and the community understand the vital role education plays in North Carolina. His primary focus is Wake County, but he also covers statewide education issues.

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