Return to Headlines

High School End of Course Exams and CTE Final Exams

December 14, 2020 

Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, Executive Director of Communications, with an important testing update. 

During today’s Special Called Meeting of the Asheville City Board of Education, the Board unanimously voted to change the minimum grading scale for state-mandated End of Course exams and CTE post-assessments.  

  • When a student takes their EOC or CTE post-assessment, the lowest possible state assessment final grade will be an 85%. 
    • When the student takes the final exam, the grade of 85-100% will count as 20% of the student’s final grade; the remaining 80% will reflect the student’s average for work in the class.
  • Until a student takes the exam, a 59% will be the placeholder in Powerschool, and if a student never takes the exam, then a 59% will stay as their exam grade.
    • If the student does not take the exam, 59% will count as 20% of the student’s final grade; the remaining 80% will reflect the student’s average for work in the class. 

Although we as a district do not have the ability to cancel in-person exams, please know we acknowledge the challenges this semester has brought and have come up with a new base level that will not deter students from reaching their future goals should they wish to delay taking an exam.

Based on the Board’s decision, please know:  

  • December 14th - 18th will remain our designated testing window, and we will still be administering in-person exams for NC Math 1, NC Math 3, English II, Biology, Apparel I, Career Management, Parenting and Child Development, Foods I, Health Science I, Sports and Entertainment Marketing and Principles of Business.  
    • If your family believes it is in the best interest of your child not to test this week, please know we have received an extension for makeup testing through the end of January.  Additionally, students have the option to take this semester’s End of Course exams and CTE post-assessment exams following the Spring 2021 Semester as well as in June 2021. 
    • This extension gives us more time but is NOT an opt-out form; testing is state and federally mandated.   
    • If students do not attend scheduled in-person testing this week, school staff will be in communication to problem solve and schedule makeup testing in collaboration with families.
  • This decision only affects state assessments.  It does NOT impact the final results students received on teacher-given final exams.  

Echoing the sentiments of Dr. Gene and the Asheville City Board of Education, please continue to do what you believe is best for your child, especially in deciding when they should take their state and federally mandated in-person exams.  


December 11, 2020 

Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Shane Cassida, Assistant Superintendent of Auxiliary Services, with a few reminders about next week’s state-mandated tests. 

At this time, neither the state or federal government have waived requirements for in-person End of Course exams and CTE post-assessments for the first semester. 

Testing Window:

Per previous communications, December 14th - 18th remains our designated testing window.  As shared, we have received an extension for makeup testing through the end of January.  This waiver gives us more time but is NOT an opt-out form; testing is state and federally mandated.   

At this time, in-person testing is required for the following first semester courses: NC Math 1, NC Math 3, English II, Biology, Apparel I, Career Management, Parenting and Child Development, Foods I, Health Science I, Sports and Entertainment Marketing, and Principles of Business. Students enrolled in yearlong versions of these courses will not test until the end of the school year. 

Although we as a district do not have the ability to cancel in-person exams, please know we acknowledge the challenges this semester has brought.  Therefore, the minimum grade for all final exams, state or teacher-made, will be a 59%, regardless if the student takes the exam or not.  This will ensure that a student does not fail a class due solely to the final exam. 

If students do not attend scheduled in-person testing next week, school staff will be in communication to problem solve and schedule makeup testing in collaboration with families.  Additionally, if your family already knows your child will not be participating in next week’s testing, we encourage you to reach out to your school’s Testing Coordinator.  Asheville High School’s Testing Coordinator is Ashley Free (ashley.free@acsgmail.net), and SILSA’s Testing Coordinator is Heather Reidinger (heather.reidinger@acsgmail.net).  

However, next week’s testing window provides the most flexibility.  Our entire staff and all facilities will be supporting our testing efforts in order to ensure the safest environment possible with maximum social distancing for our students. 

Additionally, as you know, there is no guarantee case numbers will decrease over the next month.  In fact, we’re concerned case numbers are projected to increase due to holiday travel.  Additionally, deciding to wait until after the holidays will, unfortunately, mean your child will complete their exams at least two weeks into their second semester, as all ACS buildings will be closed for two weeks of quarantine following the Winter Holiday.

These are just a few points to consider; however, please continue to advocate for your child and do what you believe is best.  

Safety Procedures: 

In an effort to create the safest environment possible, please know the Auxiliary Department has been diligently working to update procedures in conjunction with both Asheville High and SILSA’s administrators and the district’s Testing and Accountability Director. 

These updated protocols are based on the most recent guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) in regards to controlling the spread of COVID-19.  

  • Anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 or who may have been exposed to COVID-19 will not be allowed on campus. 
  • Symptomatic Protocol:  The school will immediately remove any student or staff member that begins to exhibit any symptom synonymous with COVID-19.  An administrator will escort them to the designated isolation room where ACS Health monitors will wait with the student until someone can come to pick them up from the building.  Families are encouraged to monitor their students' health over the weekend.  If they begin to exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms at that time, please do not send them to the campus on Monday.
  • Car Riders:  ACS Safety Monitors will be located in the AHS/SILSA parking lot entrance to screen students in their cars as they enter the campus.  Students will have their temperature checked and be asked to answer the NCDHHS-approved screening questions in order to leave their car and enter the campus.  Any student that fails either the temperature check or COVID-19 Screener questionnaire will be asked to leave campus and contact the school for a testing waiver.
  • Bus Riders:  Buses will have two adults on each bus (one driver, one monitor).  The monitor will take the temperature of each student as they enter the bus.  Students will be assigned seats on the bus that are socially-distanced from each other.  One student per seat will give a max capacity of around 18-20 students per bus depending on the size of the bus.  Parents will complete a one-time Bus Attestation Form ensuring they will not place their child on an ACS Bus if they are in violation of any CDC/NCDHHS COVID-19 quarantining standards.  Any student that fails the temperature check will be seated alone in an isolation seat on the bus with a mask.  Upon arriving at school, they will be escorted to the school’s isolation room where they will be monitored by the COVID-19 Safety Team until a parent or guardian is able to pick them up.  All students arriving at school from the bus will go through the screening process again before entering the actual building.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):  Students will be provided with either cloth or surgical masks each day (the student may choose).  The cloth masks are reusable and washable.  Limited supplies of gloves are available for students but only on request from the parent or guardian.  Students will have access to hand sanitizer at all locations on the campus.
    • Staff will also be provided with appropriate PPE as well to include surgical or cloth masks and gloves.
    • Students and staff will wear a mask at all times while on school property (campus buildings, grounds, and buses).  Appropriate mask breaks will be provided while students are eating/drinking.
  • Room Capacities:   Each testing location has been measured and evaluated based on CDC guidelines. Room capacities have been adjusted to allow for at least 6 feet of distance between each student.  Larger spaces have been chosen in some instances to allow for greater cross ventilation but the same CDC standard for space has been applied.
  • Cleaning/Sanitation:  All testing spaces will be deep cleaned and sanitized prior to each day’s testing sessions and in-between testing sessions.  The district has moved additional custodial support to the high school to make this possible.  The custodial staff are cleaning with a CDC approved virucide to combat COVID-19.  Each room will then come equipped with a canister of sanitizing wipes to wipe down all spaces before, during and after the test.  This is to include the individual computer/laptop keyboards that students will be using for the testing sessions.
  • Room Ventilation:  All of our HVAC units in the rooms that are being used for testing are ventilated with MERV-13 filters which are hospital grade air filters that attract and capture airborne particles or allergens less than one micron in size such as pollen, fine dust, bacteria, viruses, mold spores and smoke.  Our smaller testing rooms will also have mobile HEPA Air Filters running during the testing sessions as well.

Share Your Concerns: 

As shared, this is NOT a local decision; Dr. Gene and the Asheville City Board of Education know and have a deep understanding that our community is experiencing a rise in COVID-19 cases.  Unfortunately, Asheville City Schools students, like those across North Carolina and our nation, are currently required to take these assessments by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and U.S. Department of  Education.

If, like many ACS educators, you question these requirements, especially during a global pandemic, please see the following email from State Superintendent Mark Johnson.  

The State Board will soon finalize its testing rule for the entire state. This rule will require most students to take EOC assessments. This rule will also require that a student’s EOC grade counts as at least 20% of the student’s overall grade for the class.

Once the State Board secures final approval from the NC Rules Review Commission, these requirements will become permanent. It will then be difficult to change this EOC rule – even if North Carolina gets testing waivers from the U.S. Department of Education.

If you disagree with these requirements, you can have your voice heard by filling out this objection form and emailing, mailing, or faxing it to the NC Rules Review Commission. Your objections can delay the implementation of the State Board’s EOC rule.

We hope you have a good weekend and thank you for continuing to do what you believe is best for your child!  


December 7, 2020 

If your child is a high school student scheduled to take one of the state-mandated End of Course or CTE Final Exams, please know that, at this time, they WILL still occur in person next week. In-person testing is required for the following first semester courses: NC Math 1, NC Math 3, English II, Biology, Apparel I, Career Management, Parenting and Child Development, Foods I, Health Science I, Sports and Entertainment Marketing, and Principles of Business. Students enrolled in yearlong versions of these courses will not test until the end of the school year. 

As shared by both Principal Edwards and Principal Cush, this is NOT a local decision; Dr. Gene and the Asheville City Board of Education know and have a deep understanding that our community is experiencing a rise in COVID-19 cases.  

Unfortunately, Asheville City Schools students, like those across North Carolina and our nation, are required to take these assessments by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and U.S. Department of  Education.

Please know December 14th - 18th remains our designated testing window; however, in an effort to be as transparent as possible, we think it’s important to share that Asheville City Schools has received an extension for makeup testing through the end of January. If students do not attend scheduled in-person testing next week, school staff will be in communication to problem solve and schedule makeup testing in collaboration with families.  However, as you know, there is no guarantee case numbers will decrease over the next month, especially with many set to travel over the Winter Break.  Additionally, deciding to wait until after the holidays will, unfortunately, mean your child will complete their exams after the semester is over and students will have started their second semester courses. These are two points to consider; however, Dr. Gene urges you to continue to advocate for your child and do what you believe is best.  

We CANNOT change the fact that testing must be done in person and that our staff are the ones who will give the exams.  However, our district is doing everything within its power to ensure our in-person exams are carried in an environment that is as safe as possible.  Following guidance from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, precautions include but are not be limited to: 

  • Anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 or who may have been exposed to COVID-19 will not be allowed on campus. 
  • A Temperature Check and Covid Screener will occur before students are permitted to enter the building.
  • A mask will be worn at all times by all students and staff covering both nose and mouth.
  • Directional walking paths have been created to ensure extra safety for students and staff.
  • Social Distancing will be maintained by staying 6 feet apart at all times from all students and staff.  Students will not be allowed to congregate socially on campus. 
  • All testing rooms will be cleaned before and after testing.
  • Bathrooms will be cleaned and sanitized at least every hour. Only one student will be allowed in the restroom at a time.
  • Desks will be at least 6 feet apart to ensure social distancing. 

To: AHS and SILSA Staff, Students, and Parents

Date: December 1st, 2020

Re: End of Course Exams and CTE Final Exams

State End of Course Exams and Career and Technical Education Final Exams are legislated law that we have to abide by.  Ultimately, it is tied to funding by the federal government, and for these exams to be cancelled, it would have to come from that level.  Until then, it is mandated law that we have to comply with. 

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Education informed the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) that the federal government did not intend to waive the required statewide assessments, including general assessments and alternate assessments, or the accountability reports for the 2020–21 school year. Unless there is a change in that directive, we are required to move forward with testing and accountability despite the difficulties and challenges that are created by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Due to the recent changes in the district COVID response, we will not be offering the PSAT-NMSQT in January.  We hope that we will be able to offer it later in the semester.      

The NC State Board of Education has confirmed that with federal and state requirements for valid and reliable

assessments, the following assessments scheduled for fall 2020 and the fall semester are to be conducted in-person with all safety and testing protocols in place:

  • End-of-Course Tests for NC Math 1, NC Math 3, English II and Biology
  • CTE State Assessments

All other courses will have a teacher made final assessment that will be completed virtually the week of December 7-11. Please contact your instructor for additional information about these assessments. 

Additionally, state law requires that schools must still count a student’s End-of-Course or CTE State Assessment score for at least 20% of the student’s final grade.  We acknowledge that this semester has presented many challenges, and one of those has been the ability of teachers and students to cover the entirety of the content for a course.  There will be a comprehensive, equitable team that will evaluate the results of each state mandated assessment to determine that the 20% is appropriately calculated. Final assessments in a class are intended to assess the mastery of the comprehensive content in a class; with that in mind and acknowledging the challenges this semester, all course final assessments will not cause a student to fail a course that they were previously passing. 

Testing Schedule

Safety is our number one priority. Below are the following precautions we are taking to ensure students and staff are safe. Please know these are mandatory guidelines to be followed. 

  • A mask must be worn at ALL times by ALL students and staff covering both nose and mouth.
  • Social Distancing will be maintained by staying 6 feet apart at ALL times from ALL students and staff.  
  • A Temperature Check and Covid Screener will happen in the student parking lot, on the bus, or in the drop of loop before students are permitted to enter the building.
  • The Covid Screener can be reviewed before coming to campus to ensure safety for all. Anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 or who may have been exposed to COVID-19 will not be allowed on campus. 
  • You will be assigned your testing location at the check-in tables at the Arts Building or the front of the school after all safety checks have been completed.
  • All testing rooms will be cleaned before and after testing.
  • Students will only be permitted in their testing site. Students will not be allowed in any other area of the building while on campus.  
  • Desk will be at least 6 feet or more apart to ensure social distancing. 
  • All communal water fountains are turned off and not in use. Please bring your own water bottle.
  • Bathrooms will be cleaned and sanitized at least every hour. Only one student is allowed in the restroom at a time.
  • Directional walking paths have been created to ensure extra safety for students and staff. 

Thank you all for your continued support.  There will be further information coming soon for students who are required to test in person in the form of a survey to ensure that students have transportation, breakfast and lunch, and to confirm attendance.

 

Sincerely, 

Derek Edwards Nicole Cush

Principal, Asheville High School Principal, SILSA