End of Course exams change

Kirsten Buchanan

Changes are coming to the End of Course (EOC) assessment program, according to an email sent by Nick Kremer, Columbia Public Schools coordinator of Language Arts for grades six through 12.
During the next three years, students must take more EOC exams, as mandated by the state.
2012 freshman must take an English I EOC exam.In 2014, CPS will add U.S. History, World History and a Literacy End of High School exam. They are also placing recommendations for the grading scale of EOC. For the Studies classes, they recommend the test count for five percent of a student’s grade in the class; also, that a grade of a four on the test itself should count as 100 percent of the test grade, a three as 85 percent, a two as a 69 percent and a one as a 55 percent, according to nick Kremer.
A teacher , though, has the ultimate decision for how much an EOC will count toward a grade, meaning he can stray from the grading recommendations. However, if one does, he will have to provide a good reason for the deviation.
Biology teacher Melissa Wessel said in her subject, the district mandates the test count for five percent of a student’s grade. The state previously had it count as 10 percent, but because Biology grades are given each semester, the district petitioned to have it worth just half of what the state said it should be.
“In biology [the EOC] counts as 10 percent of a student’s grade, but CPS petitioned the state so it could count as just five percent,” Wessel said. “Last year was the first year I’ve given the exam, and almost all the students scored on the EOC what they’d been scoring in the class. Very few students moved their grade.”
Kremer said the district discourages teachers from sharing data beyond just the achievement level with students. Because EOC tests are more difficult than a typical assessment, a grade which would normally indicate failing may mean proficient; proficiency standards may also vary each year.
Sophomore Kira Kirk, who recently took her biology EOC exam, said she sometimes doesn’t see the point of taking EOCs worth grades because she believes finals should suffice.
“They’re not hard at all because I’ve been taking honors classes, and what you learn there you know the material, so the End of Course exam is super easy,” Kirk said. “But teachers know the students so they should be able to decide how much the EOC is worth. They know if the students know the material and if this one test was just bad on students.”
Principal Mark Maus said is proud of the EOC program at RBHS. He said RBHS follows the same testing window as Hickman and Douglas High Schools and that the district follows the procedures the state sets. While EOCs come with a lot of responsibilities, Maus said he never has to worry about teachers distributing tests.
“All of the responsibilities belong to me but there is a wonderful network of people I work with,” Maus said. “The teachers and guidance department ensure everything is well planned and students can be successful.”
By Kirsten Buchanan