SC students in the middle of PASS testing; big changes coming next year

Photo Source: MGN Online
Photo Source: MGN Online

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – State-wide PASS testing is full-swing this week, and this year is arguably the most important time of the year for students in South Carolina.

Teachers say parents need to make sure students get enough sleep, and a full breakfast in the morning, to be prepared for the test schools use to evaluate how much children have learned. The test lasts for several hours each morning, and can be very draining.

The Horry County School District got an A score last year, and they will find out if they kept this score in July when the test results are released. The scores are extremely important, not only to determine schools' ratings, but also to help determine what type of funding each district qualifies for.

Things are going to change drastically next year for students, because teachers will start introducing the "Common Core" curriculum to children. Educators believe Common Core will better prepare the students for college or a career, and the introduction of Common Core also means new guidelines for testing.

To get students ready for the new way of testing, teachers will have to do double duty: there's still one more year of PASS testing, and they'll also have to continue to teach the curriculum they're using now. The thought is that it will help students make a smooth transition, because once the new test comes, it will be very different. The district is throwing out the hand-written paper, and students will take all of the test on a computer, with a mix of multiple choice, short answer, and essays.

District administrators say there's a lot of prep work to do.

"It's going to start over and build on what we have," said Heather Sheehan, the Horry County Schools Director of Assessment. "Common Core is going to go deeper in knowledge, and depth and breadth of knowledge is going to be the push. So we'll take the foundation that's been laid, and then add to it."

The district has been working to get ready for the past year and a half, and WMBF News is told this summer will be a very busy time to make sure everything is ready to start introducing it to students. They will have a while to let all the changes sink in, as the new benchmark test isn't scheduled to reach schools until the 2014-2015 year.

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