There were no children at the Board of Education meeting to applaud an announcement of fewer tests, but teachers and administrators were just as tickled.

As part of a state initiative, schools will administer fewer tests under a mandate called “student learning objectives.”

Assessment and School Improvement Director Richard Coleman explained to The Oconee Enterprise that some students were taking milestones assessment tests in specific subjects in addition to end-of-course tests. Eighth graders taking a science course for high school credit, for example, had to take two assessments. Now, they will take one.

“I have always believed that we test our students too much,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said in a press release. He further explained that fewer tests gives “our teachers more time for instruction and helps our students focus on learning instead of testing.”

Earlier this year, Woods gave school districts the flexibility to revert back to the more traditional math model that is more familiar to parents. Oconee County Schools chose the traditional approach, which allows students to master a selective subject each semester or year, rather than combine various subjects into one continuous course.

In other BOE news, Claire Miller, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, shared the results of last year’s advanced-placement test scores at Monday night’s meeting.

OCS increased the percent of graduates scoring a three or higher from 40.2 percent in 2010 to 53.4 percent in 2015, she noted. Additionally, OCS increased the number of AP exams administered from 832 in 2010 to 1,660 in 2015. 

n Enrollment is 7,279, a three-and-half percent growth over last year, Superintendent Jason Branch reported at Monday’s meeting.

n The board has allowed until Aug. 10 for public review of updates to school-system policies. Policies regarding professional learning, homeless students, medication, weapons, suicide prevention, child abuse, bullying, charter schools, student fees and high-school graduation requirements will be voted on during the 5 p.m. BOE meeting on Monday.

n Earlier this summer, each board member agreed for the second consecutive year to accept a stipend of $150 per month. The BOE elected to go without pay in 2010 because of the downturn of the state and local economy. Last year’s restoration of a full calendar year and balanced budget were signs of recovery and led to the decision to restore the stipend, explained Chairman Tom Odom.

For more on this story, see the Aug. 6 edition of The Oconee Enterprise, on sale now at convenience stores and grocery stores and newspaper boxes throughout Oconee County. To subscribe, go to oconeeenterprise.com or call (706) 769-5175.

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