The Unknown State of End of Course Exams

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EOCs are due, but the content is missing.

The newly constructed plan for the EOCs has yet to be voted on, but spring, the date of the assessment, is not far away.

The Kentucky Board of Education (KDE) decided to stray from the Common Core system and create an upgraded accountability system for all Kentucky schools. Students should expect several minor changes to the End of Course exams. While many changes are going to be made, the staff at Bullitt East is confident that the new assessment will not be difficult for the students.

The KDE has decided to take a new accountability system into consideration and it will implement many changes into schools around the state. The schools will be looked at for such things as its growth, graduation and transition readiness. Instead of the schools being scored on a scale of proficiency, the new accountability system implements a star system based on the school’s overall rating. The new system is mostly based on the Every Student Succeeds Act.

One of the factors in this new accountability system is the End of Course exams. Much is not known about how exactly the exams are going to be changed, but they are to be made by Kentucky teachers and made based off of the standards placed for the class.

In the 2017-18 school year, three field tests will be implemented into Kentucky classrooms. The field tests will focus on Algebra II, biology and English II. These will be similar to practice tests to make sure the new test fits with the new standards and works well with the Kentucky schools. However, since this year is primarily a transition year between the set and future accountability systems, the student performance levels will not be looked at for the three tests.

As the EOCs change, it brings the question: will the teachers’ curriculum change? However, Kentucky administration does not completely know. “It is still uncertain what test will replace the EOC, but the material being covered in classes should not change,” said principal Chris Mason.

If changes to the curriculum and testing were approved and set forth, it seems most logical for it to occur in the summer before the start of school, so teachers and students would have time to prepare. However, the KDE still has not voted on the new change of the accountability system and it is already about a month into school. Many parents and students are nervous about how the EOCs will test said students, but members of the staff are positive that this change will not hurt the teachers or students.

“We prepare for the ACT, but we don’t really know everything. We are just trying to make you know your biology, you know your language mechanics and then we have books that tell us this will help you prepare for the ACT. No test are we going to know everything that it’s going to be. You’re going to try to line your curriculum to match that… (The new changes) won’t make a difference. It’s content knowledge,” said Bullitt County Board of Education Board Chairperson, Debbie Atherton.

A certain class that is going to be adjusted immensely is United States history. Usually, this is one of the four classes that have an end of course assessment along with Algebra II, English II and biology. However, this year there will not be a field test over this subject this year because the standards for that class have yet to be revised. Once there are newly revised standards, a new assessment will be integrated into the class.

This brings up the question of how the three US history teachers at East will assess the students for their final exam and how the students will prepare for said exam. For this school year, the final assessment is more open for the three teachers to choose exactly how they will examine the students’ knowledge. “The teachers now can go a little more in depth in some of the content we had to push through… As far as the students are concerned, there’s really not going to be a lot that changes cause there’s still going to be a comprehensive exam, it’s just going to be designed by their US history teacher,” said Fulghum.

Also with this change of systems, the teachers who are in charge of the classes with EOC exams have the chance to focus their class in a way that prepares their students of the ACT. “On the ACT, there is a reading part… (that) deals with social studies or social sciences. So, I think our history department is really going to try to prepare kids for that reading part,” said Mason.

“(Algebra II teachers are) still going to cover the standards we always covered. I will probably focus more on ACT and reviewing algebra concepts but the algebra II part won’t change,” said teacher, Debbie Pitcock.

While the date of when the Board of education will vote on the new accountability system is still unknown, it is suspected to be voted upon around the date of September 26.