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The Daily Tar Heel

Tests Distinguish Local Schools

The results from the ABC standardized tests were released Wednesday, in which all 13 elementary, middle and high schools in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools system were honored.

"I think the scores were increased because of quality instruction and support from all different parts of the Chapel Hill community," said Mary Ann Hardebeck, the CHHS principal.

ABC standardized testing, administered in May, is a series of seven tests used to measure students' proficiency in subjects such as reading, writing and mathematics.

If 80 percent or more of students in a school score at or above grade level, the school is honored as a school of distinction.

But some state education officials say they are concerned about racial biases in the test.

State Superintendent Mike Ward stated in a press release that 82 percent of white elementary and middle school students around the state scored at grade level or higher, as opposed to 52 percent among black students.

Dr. Diane Villwock, director of testing and program evaluations for Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools, said at the press conference that a new method of scoring was implemented in which school officials looked at each student's past test scores to come up with a score goal.

She said the new method made scores more relevant to the group of students being tested.

"What we really want to know is if the same students are getting stronger," Villwock said.

"The new method is a sounder, more valid way to measure."

The test results were interpreted based on the difference between the goals and the student's actual performance, Villwock said.

Mary Scroggs Elementary School and CHHS, two schools in the system, were awarded an added honor for being among the top 10 schools where students exceeded their testing goals.

"I think the scores reflect us having all the right pieces in place," said Scroggs Elementary Principal Paula McCarthy.

"They reflect how hard everyone has worked."

But Valerie Foushee, Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education vice chairwoman, said the test scores are not the only way of assessing the schools' progress.

"We understand that testing is necessary," Foushee said. "But it is not the only measure of achievement.

"The tests show overall that students are being taught what they need to be taught."

Although the school officials were satisfied with the results, all schools are still hoping for more improvement.

"The schools will look at specific aspects of the curriculum and see if they need to be advanced," said Superintendent Neil Pedersen.

"We hope to have 100 percent proficiency in the near future."

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