Opting Out Of Tests In North Carolina – PT II

Last October, I published a cursory piece on opting out of tests in North Carolina. Since then, I’ve been slammed for requests for more information.

how to pass a standardized textI am not giving advice with this column, I am just laying out what I found. What others do with it is their prerogative. Parents should decide what is best for their child.

As in my previous article, UnitedOptOut.com is a good place to start and I recommend exploring it thoroughly.  As a reminder, all major tests have been aligned to the Common Core. That includes the state EOG.

Below are all the sources I could find in state statute and State Board of Education policy that relate to testing and opting out. Near the bottom, I include Wake county specific information.


Article 10A – Testing
Link to statute.

Most End of Grade (EOG/EOC) tests are tied to reporting to the Federal government and related grants and monies. They also serve as a method of ‘grading’ schools.

Key Line:

“The State Board of Education shall adopt the tests for grades three through 12 that are required by federal law or as a condition of a federal grant.”


Policy for Testing is listed under the section “GCS”, which stands for “Globally Competitive Students” in the Policy Manual files: http://sbepolicy.dpi.state.nc.us/

GCS-A is Testing.
It has sixteen sub-policies, of which 6 policies are ‘dead’ as of 4-30-15.

GCS-C is the Accountability Model.
It has 36 sub-policies, of which 23 policies are ‘dead’ as of 4-30-15.

The following State Board of Education policies are directly referenced by the March 25, 2014 letter from DPI’s Rebecca Garland to Superintendents on the topic of Opting Out:

  • GCS-A-001 – Policy governing test administration in the public schools
  • GCS-A-010 – Policy adopting a testing code of ethics
  • GCS-A-016 – Use of State-Designated Assessments for the North Carolina Teacher Evaluation Process
  • GCS-C-003 – Policy delineating use of end-of-course tests for accountability
  • GCS-C-021 – Annual performance standards under the READY Accountability Model

Of note in GCS-C-003, there is this provision, which forces compliance by tying the student’s grade to the test:

“Public schools shall use results from all operational EOC assessments as at least twenty percent (20%) of the student’s final grade for each respective course with the exception of students following the Occupational Course of Study. Public schools shall adopt policies regarding the use of EOC assessment results in assigning final grades.”

It is worth noting that the individual schools and LEA’s are responsible for implementing or using this arguably coercive method. From what information I gathered, this appears to be used more at the high school level. I was unable to locate an elementary in Wake county who employed this provision.

Of note in GCS-C-16 is the READY Accountability Model. This model is used to score the schools, using the EOG as a component:

shall use growth standards and performance standards to establish annual performance goals for each school.


“Growth is defined as meeting or exceeding anticipated achievement as determined by previous achievement on state assessments.

Under GCS-C-16, there are ‘penalties’ for the school that doesn’t get their students to comply with testing. The schools must maintain a “95% participation rate”:

Tested Students – All eligible students in membership (i.e., enrolled in a school) at grades 3 through 8 and 10 and in high school courses in which an end-of-course assessment is administered shall participate in the state assessment program adopted by the SBE.

(1)For Annual Measureable Objectives (AMOs) and for the READY accountability model, a school that does not assess at least 95 percent of its expected test population will be deemed not to have met participation rate requirements and shall be subject to the following:

(A) Year 1 Not Meeting Participation Rate Requirements: Within 30 days after the accountability results are approved by the SBE, the school must send a letter (text provided by the NCDPI) to all parents informing them of the participation rate. The letter must include a plan of action for ensuring full participation for all subgroups specifically targeting those that did not have adequate participation.

(B) Year 2 Not Meeting Participation Rate Requirements: The school will be designated as a “consistently low-participating school” and will be required to create and implement an intensive intervention plan aligned with ensuring the participation rate for all subgroups reaches 95 percent. At the state level, these schools will receive appropriate support around the issue of participation rates.

(C) Year 3 Not Meeting Participation Rate Requirements: The NCDPI will count non-participating students as not proficient. The number of additional students who will be counted as not proficient will be equal to the number of students that would be needed to achieve a 95 percent participation rate in any subgroup. An additional letter to parents (text provided by the NCDPI) must be sent by the school indicating a third year of inadequate participation and providing a plan to ensure full participation for all subgroups.


Link: http://webarchive.wcpss.net/policy-files/series/policies/print-friendly/5530-rp.html

Wake county policy appears to be tying promotion to 4th and 6th grade on the student taking the EOG. Parents should question their school officials if this practice is being employed at their child’s school.

Relevant Text:

Grades 3-5

    1. Students will perform at Level III (proficient) or above in the following areas:
      1. WCPSS Math Assessment
      2. WCPSS Literacy Assessment
      3. NC End-of-Grade Test of Reading Comprehension
      4. NC End-of-Grade Test of Mathematics
      5. NC End-of-Grade Test of Science (Grade 5)


At the end of the academic year, students demonstrating grade level proficiency are eligible for promotion to the next grade. Options for students not meeting promotion standards include:

Promotion with focused intervention or,

As a last resort, retention with focused intervention

Introductory Text:

Students in the Wake County Public School System are required to meet promotion standards and graduation requirements. State law grants school principals the authority to determine the appropriate grade level for each pupil. Promotion decisions are based upon multiple criteria including local assessments, standardized test scores, and final progress reports. Personal Education Plans (PEPs), focused intervention strategies, and accelerated activities are provided for students not performing at grade level. State law and State Board policies regarding who is required to be re-tested will always be adhered to.

Effective 2008-09, all students in grades 3-8 who score at an Achievement Level II on the EOG reading and math assessments (and science in grades where this test is administered) must be administered Retest 1. Students who score at an Achievement Level I may be re-tested if parents request it. After Retest 1, schools can begin making student accountability decisions at grades 3, 5, and 8. At that time 1 standard error of measure may be used to determine level.

About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a freelance journalist and is currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_
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2 Responses to Opting Out Of Tests In North Carolina – PT II

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