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BOE votes to change impact of End of Course tests on student grades this school year
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Image by F1 Digitals from Pixabay

The Forsyth County Board of Education passed a recommendation during their board meeting on Tuesday to change the weight of high school End of Course tests for the school year. 

Lee Anne Rice, associate superintendent of Teaching and Learning, advised the board to drop the weight of the tests from the usual 20% of students’ grades to 10% and change the grading policy to only impact students if it will improve their overall course grade. 

While EOC tests are required by federal law, students did not take EOC tests at the end of last school year as districts scrambled to create plans and adapt to virtual schooling. This school year, the state sent another request to the federal government to try to waive the tests again, but the request was denied under former President Donald Trump’s administration. 

“With a new administration coming in, Georgia wanted to file and were encouraged to file with the new Secretary of Education, so we’re kind of on hold waiting to see what happens from the federal government,” Rice said. “But without that, we are anticipating having to give EOCs and EOGs this year because that is part of our federal mandate.” 

If the requirement for EOC testing stays in place, the state Board of Education already determined that the tests should count for a minimum of 0.01% of the student’s grade, which gives local boards the option of where they want to set the weight of the tests for their students. 

After speaking with parents, students and high school principals, Rice said that she believes the 10% change is best for Forsyth County Schools. 

Opinions among parents and students vary greatly, with some families noting that their students are feeling more anxious this year and should not prioritize testing and others saying EOC scores help their students and help to improve their course average. 

Rice and Denmark High School Principal Heather Gordy both said that while the pandemic has weighed on the district, it has not taken away from student learning. 

“Despite the challenges that we have had this year, we really feel positive about the level of instruction that our teachers have been able to maintain this school year,” Gordy said. 

On top of that, school leaders were relieved by the number of students who showed up to the schools to take their PSAT tests this year.  

During that time, the schools made the testing days virtual learning days for students, meaning the only students actually in the school buildings were those taking the test. This allowed for school staff and leaders to follow more strict safety measures and it left more room in classrooms for students to socially distance. 

The extra safety measures made even some virtual students feel more comfortable coming into the building to take the test. 

To help foster a safer environment for the EOC tests, the board also unanimously passed a recommendation to make the five days of EOC testing virtual learning days for high school students. This will take place during the first week of May. 

Rice said that they plan to run transportation and meals as normal, and any students who would like to still attend school are welcome to learn remotely from inside designated classrooms. Otherwise, only students who will be taking one of the four EOC tests — for Biology, American Literature, U.S. History and Algebra I — will be in the school building during that week. 

“We want to show compassion,” Rice said. “We want to show understanding for different situations that families are going through, but we also feel like if we have to give the test, if the federal government says we do, then we want it to be worth our time and we want it to be meaningful.”