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In-person testing is needed for local students

WINTON – When it comes to properly assessing what a child is learning and retaining in their schoolwork, there’s nothing more effective than administering a test, one that includes written and verbal skills.

But how is that accomplished within a COVID-19 pandemic environment, one where classrooms are closed and students are engaged in remote learning from home?

The simple answer is you find a way to administer these important, face-to-face assessments within a safe and secure setting where the health of the students and teachers are safeguarded to the fullest extent.

That’s exactly what Hertford County Public Schools have in mind as they begin to schedule the statewide assessments and accountability measures. Those tests remain in effect for the 2020-21 school year as directed by the Department of Education and North Carolina General Assembly legislation.

At the beginning of the school year, the NC Department of Instruction Accountability Services considered remote administration of state assessments. However, concerns regarding validity and reliability of the test data in addition to other skewed outcomes involved with remote administration rendered a decision that remote administration of state assessments was not feasible.

To that end, members of the Hertford County School Board, the Superintendent, and all HCPS employees are working diligently to ensure that when students are requested to return to campus for testing, the recommended measures to keep the children and the staff safe will have been fully implemented.

The North Carolina State Board of Education and Department of Public Instruction, in consultation and response to guidelines issued by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), have developed guidance to support public school units in developing plans and strategies to be put in place as students return to campus. Specific protocols to be used, but not limited to, are DHHS recommended screening prior to entry to the building, 6 feet social distancing, reduced class sizes, required masks for students and staff, social distancing and reduced capacity on school buses, and additional sanitizing practices using COVID 19 recommended products.

“When you receive information regarding the need for your student to attend a state testing administration, if you have specific concerns or questions, please contact your school’s administrator. We want to ensure that HCPS is able to provide complete and accurate data of our students’ academic progress,” stated Tammi Ward, HCPS Assistant Superintendent.

That testing is scheduled to begin as early as Jan. 19. Parents and community members can visit the Hertford County Public Schools website and find the second semester testing calendar located under the “For Parents and Students” menu located at the top of the district home page. Updates will be provided to this calendar if and when changes are provided through the Department of Public Instruction. Specific dates and times will be communicated by your student’s school administrator closer to the test administration.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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