FAIRNESS IN TESTING PROGRAM (Passed as part of 2001-2002 NC Budget)
 SECTION 28.17.(a) The State Board of Education
shall provide the Joint Legislative Education Oversight
Committee with a detailed analysis of the current resources
allocated to meet the needs of all students subject to the
Statewide Student Accountability Standards, and in addition,
shall submit recommendations regarding other resources that
would best assist students in meeting these new standards.
 SECTION 28.17.(b) G.S. 115C-288(a) reads as
rewritten:
 "(a)To Grade and Classify Pupils. - The principal shall have
authority to grade and classify pupils except a
pupils. In determining the appropriate grade for a pupil who
is already attending a public school, the principal shall
consider the pupil's classroom work and grades, the pupil's
scores on standardized tests, and the best educational interests
of the pupil. The principal shall not make the decision solely
on the basis of standardized test scores. If a principal's
decision to retain a child in the same grade is partially based
on the pupil's scores on standardized tests, those test scores
shall be verified as accurate.
 A principal shall not require additional testing of a
student entering a public school from a school governed under
Article 39 of this Chapter if test scores from a nationally
standardized test or nationally standardized equivalent measure
that are adequate to determine the appropriate placement of the
child are available."
 SECTION 28.17.(c) G.S. 115C-47 is amended by
adding a new subdivision to read:
" 115C-47. Powers and duties generally.
 In addition to the powers and duties designated in G.S.
115C-36, local boards of education shall have the power or duty:
 ...
 (39) To Adopt Policies Related to Student
 Retention Decisions. -- Local boards shall adopt
 policies related to G.S. 115C-45(c) that include
 opportunities for parents and guardians to discuss
 decisions to retain students."
 SECTION 28.17.(d) The State Board of Education
shall study the benefits of providing students' parents or
guardians with copies of tests administered to their children
under the Statewide Testing Program. The Board shall also
consider the costs of maintaining the integrity and reliability
of the tests if such a policy is implemented. The Board shall
report the results of this study to the Joint Legislative
Education Oversight Committee by March 31, 2002.
 SECTION 28.17.(e) Part 3 of Article 8B of
Chapter 115C of the General Statutes is amended by adding the
following new section to read:
" 115C-105.41. Students who have been placed at risk of
 academic failure; personal education plans.
 Local school administrative units shall identify
students who have been placed at risk for academic failure.
Identification shall occur as early as can reasonably be done
and can be based on grades, observations, State assessments, and
other factors that impact student performance that teachers and
administrators consider appropriate, without having to await the
results of end-of-grade or end-of-course tests. At the
beginning of the school year, a personal education plan for
academic improvement with focused intervention and performance
benchmarks shall be developed for any student not performing
at least at grade level, as identified by the State end-of-
grade test. Focused intervention and accelerated activities
should include research-based best practices that meet the needs
of students and may include coaching, mentoring, tutoring,
summer school, Saturday school, and extended days. Local school
administrative units shall provide these activities free of
charge to students. Local school administrative units shall also
provide transportation free of charge to all students for
whom transportation is necessary for participation in these
activities.
 Parents should be included in the implementation and ongoing
review of personal education plans."
 SECTION 28.17.(f) G.S. 115C-174.12(a) reads as
rewritten:
 "(a)The State Board of Education shall review the
tests being administered through State and local testing
programs and shall select the tests that it believes are
necessary to provide the best measures of the levels of academic
achievement attained by students in various subject
areas. The State Board of Education shall
also establish policies and guidelines
necessary for minimizing the time students spend taking tests
administered through State and local testing programs and for
otherwise carrying out the provisions of this Article. The
State Board of Education's policies regarding the testing of
children with disabilities shall (i) provide broad
accommodations and alternate methods of assessment that are
consistent with a child's individualized education program and
section 504 (29 U.S.C.  794) plans, (ii) prohibit the use of
statewide tests as the sole determinant of decisions about a
child's graduation or promotion, and (iii) provide parents with
information about the Statewide Testing Program and options for
students with disabilities. The State Board shall report its
proposed policies and proposed changes in policies to the Joint
Legislative Education Oversight Committee prior to
adoption."
 SECTION 28.17.(g) Schools shall devote no more
than two days of instructional time per year to the taking of
practice tests that do not have the primary purpose of assessing
current student learning.
 SECTION 28.17.(h) Students in a local school
shall not be subject to field tests or national tests during the
two-week period preceding the administration of the end-of-grade
tests, end-of-course tests, or the school's regularly scheduled
final exams. No school shall participate in more than two field
tests at any one grade level during a school year unless that
school volunteers, through a vote of its school improvement
team, to participate in an expanded number of field tests.
 SECTION 28.17.(i) The Joint Legislative
Education Oversight Committee shall study the State's testing
program. As part of this study, the Committee shall consider:
 (1) The number of tests currently mandated at the State
 level and the process and cost of developing,
 validating, and scoring them.
 (2) Whether the State should consider the use of
 nationally developed tests as a substitute to
 State-developed testing. In particular, the
 Committee shall determine whether this use would
 (i) affect the ABCs Program, (ii) adequately
 measure student achievement and performance, (iii)
 provide more than minimum levels of achievement,
 (iv) provide a better comparison to student
 achievement and performance in other states, (v) be
 practical for high school courses or higher level
 courses, (vi) reduce the need for field testing,
 and (vii) offer any cost savings to the State.
 (3) The number of grades in which State tests are
 given. The Committee shall determine the necessity
 for testing all grades in third through eighth
 grades, whether a reduction in the grades tested
 would affect the receipt of federal money, and the
 extent to which a reduction would impair the
 State's ability to identify schools under the ABCs
 Program.
 (4) The high school courses for which State tests are
 given and whether there is an appropriate
 distribution of tests across grades nine through 12
 and that test an appropriate array of the minimum
 courses required for admission to the constituent
 institutions of The University of North Carolina.
 In addition, the Committee shall examine whether
 students who take higher level courses and students
 in 12th grade are held accountable for their
 academic growth and performance.
 (5) The advantages and disadvantages of using a
 composite of end-of-course tests or other tests
 such as the SAT, AP tests, or other nationally
 standardized tests in high school rather than
 developing a high school exit exam. If the
 Committee finds a high school exit exam is
 preferable, then it shall determine whether it must
 be administered to all students or limited to
 certain students, for example, those who do not
 take the SAT or a certain number of courses for
 which there are end-of-course tests.
 (6) The extent to which additional testing, including
 field testing, practice testing, and locally
 mandated testing, is occurring and whether this
 should be limited or prohibited.
 (7) Evaluate alternative schools to determine how
 educational achievement is being advanced in these
 alternative school programs and that placement in
 these programs is to improve student performance
 rather than improve the performance of the school
 in which the student originally was assigned.
 (8) Any other issue the Committee considers relevant.
 The Committee shall report its findings and any
recommendations, including recommended legislation, to the 2002
Regular Session of the 2001 General Assembly.
 SECTION 28.17.(j) The State Board of Education
shall develop and report to the Joint Legislative Education
Oversight Committee on its objectives for the Statewide Testing
Program and on the implementation of that Program. The report
shall include:
 (1) A statement of the relationship between these
 objectives and the tests currently administered
 under the Program;
 (2) An analysis of whether the current tests
 appropriately achieve these objectives;
 (3) A statement of any actions that may be needed to
 coordinate the objectives and the tests more
 effectively; and
 (4) Strategies for communicating the objectives of the
 Program, the tests administered under the Program,
 and the relationship between these objectives and
 tests to principals, teachers, parents, and
 students throughout the State.
 SECTION 28.17.(k) Subsections (b) and (e) of
this section become effective December 1, 2001.