Report Criticizes NC Tests

K-12 Testing

While North Carolina's "ABC" testing program has been widely praised by proponents of test- driven school "reform," a new report, The Troubling Consequences of the ABCs: Who's Accountable, offers a critical evaluation. The tests are administered in grades 3-8 as well as in some subjects in high school, and the state has a mandatory high school graduation exam. The tests also are used to hold schools accountable, and the state has introduced grade promotion requirements based on tests (see related article).


After outlining the motives for implementing the tests -- primarily, political expediency to meet business demands -- the report focuses on the negative consequences of testing, which include:

- lower teacher morale;
- teachers leaving low-performing schools;
- more emphasis on test-taking skills and rote memorization;
- less emphasis on non-tested subjects; and
- tracking into remedial and special education classes.


The effects are particularly harmful for schools serving mainly low-income and minority-group students. These schools usually score lowest and make smaller year-to-year gains, yet the state has no effective programs to close the score gap.


The report concludes that in pushing for student and teacher accountability, the state has failed to be accountable to students, parents and the general public. North Carolina has no means to evaluate the unintended and often harmful consequences of its testing program, as is called for in Principle 7 of the Principles and Indicators for Student Assessment Systems.

-- Available from the Common Sense Foundation, P.O. Box 10808, Raleigh, NC 27605-0808; tel. 919/821-9270; website, $5.00.