North Carolina drops computer skills test

A computer skills test that many officials believe is outdated no longer will be a roadblock to a high school diploma for North Carolina students, reports the Greensboro News & Record. Legislators voted last month to stop requiring a passing grade on the computer competency test because of budget cuts and concerns that the test had lost much of its relevance. “I think we’ve gone beyond the place where we ask, ‘What is the purpose of the control key on a computer?’” said June Atkinson, state schools superintendent. Atkinson said there needs to be a shift in how schools teach computer skills, moving toward integration into all curriculums, rather than separate coursework. North Carolina students have been tested on computer literacy in the eighth grade since 1996. Beth Folger, chief of academics with Guilford County Schools, agreed that some of the test had become irrelevant. The test used software developed for the state, rather than the commonly used platforms like those developed by Microsoft, Folger said. But “some of the things that they wanted students to learn was relevant, like sorting databases and formatting text,” she said. The state’s decision does leave several big question marks for school systems. The No Child Left Behind Act requires school districts to verify students’ computer literacy. Atkinson said state officials are working on that issue and will have a new system in place this school year…

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