New year brings to end val, sal designations

Tasha Oxendine

This week as lawmakers negotiate whether they will fund school-related programs such as driver’s education and support teachers assistants, students returning to class already welcomed a few other changes in the classroom.

This year will be the final year for the valedictorian and salutatorian recognition in the Public Schools of Robeson County. New changes in the 10-point grading scale for students will allow for numerous students to have a grade tie with no distinction for place value for valedictorian and salutatorian.

This means instead of the valedictorian and salutatorian, students will be recognized as summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude. These values are based upon grade-point average. To decide what student will represent each high school at graduation, students must submit an application and participate in an interview that will highlight their community service. Marshals for each school will be chosen along the same lines of this honor system.

The school board voted to recognize academic honors in the 2016-2017 school year through the honors program.

Other highlights for the 2015-2016 school year include:

— A new required hand signal all bus drivers will use to tell students when a street is safe to cross. Drivers are receiving training in using the signal in the months to come and must start using it by Jan. 1. An estimated 800,000 students statewide ride on one of 13,500 school buses. For information, visit

— A 10-point grading scale for all high school students. This change addresses concerns expressed by school and district leaders, educators and parents regarding equity within classrooms and athletic eligibility. Additional changes to quality points and course weights will be phased in this year, beginning with ninth-graders.

— Students joining in a new pilot study in which 9,000 fifth- and sixth-grade students will take three shorter tests throughout the year and a shorter End-of-Grade assessment in math or English/language arts. Some people call this “through-grade” testing. A state Board of Education task force on testing supported the idea for the study to explore a different approach to statewide testing that would be more favorable than a single test given at the end of each year. Students at Fairgrove Middle School, Prospect Elementary, Parkton Elementary and St. Pauls Middle schools are participating in this year-long study called Proof of Concept. This study looks at the feasibility of shorter or abbreviated versions of the End-of-Grade Test.

— The Public Schools of Robeson County continuing to use the Common Core and Essential Standards. Currently the curriculum, which was implemented in 2012, is being studied by the state for revisions and assessment changes.

As the North Carolina General Assembly continues to debate the budget, driver’s education for the Public Schools of Robeson County is on hold until a source of funding is identified.

Tasha Oxendine

Tasha Oxendine is the public information officer for the Public Schools of Robeson County.

Tasha Oxendine is the public information officer for the Public Schools of Robeson County.

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