A Senate committee passed a bill to do away with four end-of-course tests for high school students, despite a warning from a judge that the move could lead to a constitutional challenge.
House Bill 48 would eliminate standardized tests in U.S. history, civics and economics, Algebra II and physical science. The bill had bipartisan support in the House, but in today's Senate committee, Democrats spoke against the bill while Republicans supported it.
Dumping the tests would violate students' rights under the state constitution and the Leandro ruling that guarantees a sound basic education for all students, Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard Manning Jr. has warned.
Today, the N.C. Association of Educators, the teachers group, spoke in support of the bill, saying the high stakes standardized tests rob teachers of the ability to be creative and address current events. "You can't talk about Egypt," said Brian Lewis, government relations manager for NCAE. "There's no time."
But others said dropping the tests would deal a major blow to accountability in public education. Ann McColl, lobbyist for the State Board of Education, said the board is ready to go to a next generation of improved tests.
"If we take out these tests, we won't be able to tell you what kind of progress we're making in our low-performing schools," she said.
A high school math teacher from Warren County wants to see the tests continue. "I think this bill seriously jeopardizes public education in North Carolina," said Pablo Friedmann, who teaches Algebra. He said doing away with the tests would conflict with the state's goals and promises to the federal government for the $400 million Race to the Top grant.
The bill passed the House 94-13 and heads to the Senate floor next.