NC Superintendent Confirms Heart Of Backlash Against Testing

Over the weekend, North Carolina’s Superintendent, stepped into the testing backlash debate in an article at WUNC.

Atkinson, who is also President of the CCSSO — one of the DC trade organizations who brought the nation Common Core — told WUNC tests are first used to grade the schools. In other words, fulfilling federal requirements.


Excerpt from WUNC:

“One of the tests, of our teachers told us we only have to get 11 out of the 40 questions right to pass because of the curve,” says Becca Whittaker, a freshman at Jordan High School. “Like if you went in and marked A for every question, you’d pass… So, it just shows that they’re not effective.”

“Any student in school would think that we over-test. We have to put tests in perspective,” explains state Superintendent June Atkinson.

Atkinson says there are two reasons why tests are so important: The first is to judge how schools are doing (for the first time, schools this year were assigned A-F grades based largely on student test scores); the second is to figure what the students know to drive classroom instruction.

Atkinson continued, saying there was confusion and kids don’t take too many tests but instead the focus should be taking the ‘right kind of tests’.

“In some respects, I believe North Carolina has lost its balance and its focus on what are the reasons why we test,” she says. 

If you try counting the different tests students take, it would get very confusing, very quickly. Eighth grade is the year that students take the most tests.


A kid in 3rd grade in this state can be exposed to up to 95 separate assessments throughout the year from Read to Achieve, Mclass, Case21 and the EOG.

This total does not include the built in ‘Blackline Master’ Common Core assessments that Wake county is using throughout the year to compile a child’s overall grade.

Money quote:

“Part of the confusion is that parents and students do not where if the test originates from the state or whether it is a local test,” Atkinson explains.

That’s sort of an amazing admission.

Parents across the state are confused about testing in North Carolina  for a number of reasons. Testing law, policies and rules are posted in multiple locations for one thing.  For another, parents cannot get a straight answer out of DPI on opting out.

About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a reporter currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_ Tips:
This entry was posted in EDUCATION, June Atkinson, Testing. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to NC Superintendent Confirms Heart Of Backlash Against Testing

  1. Rod Powell says:

    Reaching out in testing frustration here and have been thinking long and hard….So here goes.

    Interested in co-authoring a piece about the damaging effects of testing on our North Carolina students?

    You have an incredible following and extensive political insight into testing. I have 28 years of teaching experience and can bring a wealth of classroom insight to a piece.

    I’ve been hammered by administration recently about my test scores. I just refuse to play the game and teach test prep. The VAM scores conducted by SAS are killing teacher creativity and initiative. I’ve got a lot of stories about man-hours spent, instructional time lost, student stress endured, and teacher burn-out to share in my district

    I would like to write outside of the CTQ/Common Core umbrella on this one. Just me as a concerned and frustrated educator.

    My feelings about CCSS haven’t changed but I’m thinking that being so strident in my support is helping no one – particularly my students. I think that would be the intrigue – two polar opposites in NCED finding common ground on out of control testing.

    In answer to your question…I think in house teacher made assessments are part of the answer. Portfolios, capstone projects, challenge and project based assessments could all give us a deeper insight into student learning and help us inform instruction in our classrooms.

    I have no agenda here – just interested in exploring middle ground.

    I tried to find an Email to broach this privately but could not – if you’re not interested…don’t approve this post, let me know at, and I’ll let it die.


  2. Pingback: New Hampshire Governor Sides With Big Biz, Govt Over The People With Opt Out Veto - Stop Common Core NCStop Common Core NC

  3. Rod Powell says:

    I had an interesting conversation with a student in one of my classes before High School NCFEs last week. This student was sharing about how another teacher was berating the class for not taking the exams seriously and saying “I’ve always had top scores – you people better not mess them up for me!”

    Our students are on to the testing game. They know it’s not about measuring what they’ve learned. They’ll share stories about randomly guessing and passing, about classmates who slept the whole semester and scored an A, about those that worked very hard for the semester and failed.

    Teachers at the HS level aren’t given any feedback or data on how their students did for the NCFEs. I think to drive instruction we would have to know what areas we were deficient in so we can improve instruction the next time. Doesn’t happen. It’s about teacher evaluation.


    • We may disagree on some topics, but given what you just said, I believe we might be in agreement on testing.

      From what I’ve read and dug around for, you’re spot on about what the EOC/EOG is about — teacher evaluation/School evaluation & also, federal check-boxes for grants requirements. I see little evidence these tests, particularly EOG’s in elementary, do anything for the student.

      Do you have an opinion on formative assessments taking the place of end of year tests? Ones that might actually inform instruction in the classroom?


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