ASK THE SUPERINTENDENT: Common Exams to be phased in

Jan. 07, 2013 @ 02:36 PM

Durham community, I am pleased to have the opportunity to add to your understanding of our school district and the programs and services offered in DPS through your questions and my responses.  If you have a question about our schools, please send them to and I will be happy to answer.
Q: I have heard that more tests will be given to students at the end of this year. Which students will get them and what are they?
A: Yes. The Common Exams are being created by the N.C. Department of Public instruction to measure what students know and are able to do at the end of a course or grade and to provide data regarding teacher effectiveness. The Common Exams will be in addition to the End of Grade (EOG) tests and End of Course (EOC) tests that we administer as part of the state accountability model.
DPS is phasing in the Common Exams. For this school year, there will be no Common Exams for elementary students. There will be Common Exams this spring in social studies for sixth through eighth grade and science for sixth and seventh grades. At the high school, Common Exams will be given for some math, social studies, science, English, and occupational course of study courses. Additional Common Exams will be added in the 2013-14 school year. For more information visit our website at Crossing the Bridge to Common Core and Essential Standards,
Q: My child is applying for college. How does he request a transcript?
A: Our central records department handles all requests for student records online. The process is different depending on whether your child is applying to a school within or outside North Carolina, but it all begins by going to the "select a department" menu on our website and choosing "Records." From there you may access the online request form.
Current students applying to a North Carolina community college, college or university may have their transcript sent to the school through the College Foundation of North Carolina. This is a free service for our students. Applicants to other schools will submit the online form to our Records Department. There is an $8 fee for each transcript. Parents must complete the form if the student is under 18 years old.
It's very important that our students review their transcripts before and shortly after graduation to be sure that it shows all of the courses and credits they earned. Confirming that their information is correct is much easier the earlier they do it. Student records should include a complete immunization record as well; that will be especially important if they're heading to college or to work in a health services environment.
Q: My daughter is considering trying out for a sport next year in high school. What are the eligibility requirements?
A: Sports eligibility is governed by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association and our Board of Education policies.
Among those requirements, a student must have 85 percent attendance (including excused and unexcused absences) and must be in good academic standing during the previous semester. The student must be a regularly enrolled member of his or her assigned school and living with parents or a legal custodian. If your child is enrolled in one of our high school magnet schools without access to a formal athletic program (JD Clement Early College High School, Middle College High School or City of Medicine Academy), she can participate in sports at her non-magnet assigned high school.  Students may not participate if they are 19 years old by Aug. 31 of a given school year. An annual physician's examination is also required to clear a child for athletic participation.  I encourage you to contact your daughter’s high school athletic director for more information.
Save the date: I hope to see you at the State of Our Schools presentation at the Carolina Theatre on Jan. 23 at 5:30 p.m. I look forward to sharing with you how are schools are making our vision of academic excellence a reality.
Dr. Eric J. Becoats is superintendent of Durham Public Schools. He answers readers’ questions in his column the second Tuesday of each month. Submit your questions to