RALEIGH, N.C.—North Carolina education leaders are looking for better ways to judge a student’s progress in school and it may include eliminating End of Grade testing. 

The comments were made at a hearing that’s part of the 20-year-old Leandro lawsuit, which questions if state education leaders are meeting their constitutional obligations. 

North Carolina’s state constitutional obligation to every student is providing a sound, basic education.

Superior Court Judge Howard Manning says this did not happen at more than 300 schools across the state during the 2013/2014 school year. He specifically mentioned an unnamed elementary school in Durham.

“In the fourth grade, there were four children who were proficient in reading in a class of 33 and in the fifth grade there were 41 children, of which only 38...38 were not proficient in reading. Only three children in the fifth grade at that school could read at grade level,” he said. 

In response, the State Board of Education created a Summative Assessment Task force last October to evaluate student performance. 

“The current testing model is a very effective system of data collection, but it's not a very effective system of informing instruction,” said A.L. “Buddy” Collins, vice chairman of the North Carolina Board of Education.

Collins also chairs the task force and he says they are considering many options, one including quarterly tests every nine weeks, instead of End of Grade testing.  

 “With four data points, we will have more data to slice and dice, but again, this is concept, this isn't a point where I'm sitting here saying to the state board or to the State of North Carolina this works, because we don't know yet,” he said. 

Deparment of Public Instruction Deputy Superintendent Dr. Rebecca Garland said this change could improve student performance. 

"If teachers know in a timely manner, early in the year, that what they are doing is not working, then yes, it's quite possible that student achievement could benefit from this more timely information,” she said. 

The model under consideration would be four tests per year for third through eighth graders then potential national standardized tests such as the ACT or SAT for high-schoolers.

Dr. Garland said the idea is in the very early stages, but a pilot program could be rolled out for the 2015-2016 school year. 

Judge Manning said by the end of this year, the state will have spent about one billion dollars on just 44 deficient high schools since 2009. 

The Summative Assessment Task force will meet Friday to further discuss the pilot program and timeline.