South Carolinians to select name of state's new testing system

August 20, 2008

Deadline to vote is Labor Day

The direct link to the online ballot is

COLUMBIA, SC – August 19, 2008 – State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex announced today that South Carolinians will name the state’s new standardized testing system, which will replace PACT tests that have been administered statewide since 1999.

Voters can visit the South Carolina Department of Education’s web site and cast their ballots on line.  The deadline to vote is Labor Day, Sept. 1, at 5 p.m., and Rex will announce the winning name on Wednesday, Sept. 3.
Two weeks ago Rex asked teachers, students, parents and citizens to suggest names, and hundreds responded.  There was such an immediate and enthusiastic response to our initial request for suggestions that we decided South Carolinians should make the final decision, too, he said.
The Education Department sifted through all of the suggested names and selected five finalists for the statewide vote:

PAL – Palmetto Assessment of Learning

PASS – Palmetto Assessment of State Standards

SCYE – South Carolina Yearly Evaluation

STARS – State Test of Achievement and Readiness for Success

STEP – State Test of Educational Progress

The General Assembly voted last session to replace PACT (Palmetto Achievement Challenge Tests) while making significant changes to South Carolina’s overall student assessment and school accountability systems.  Rex championed the legislation, which marked the first significant changes to South Carolina’s Education Accountability Act since it was approved by the General Assembly 10 years ago.  That law mandated annual testing for 380,000 students in grades 3-8 and the publishing of annual school report cards.  

These changes are what teachers and parents have been asking for, Rex said.  They will make our accountability system more practical for educators, more effective for schools and more useful to parents.

The changes to the law are based on recommendations from two statewide task forces appointed by Rex – one for testing and one for accountability.  Those groups, which met numerous times in 2007, included representatives from local districts and schools, teacher and school administrator organizations, the South Carolina School Boards Association, the General Assembly, the Education Oversight Committee, the State Board of Education, business groups, and colleges and universities.

The new law eliminates PACT and replaces it with new end-of-year accountability tests that feature essay exams in March and more easily scored multiple-choice exams in May.  Schools will get final results within a few weeks of the May tests, compared to late July with PACT.

Rex said a number of suggestions for the new test’s name didn’t make the list of finalists but merited special attention.  Those suggestions included:

SWEPT – So We Ended PACT Testing

SALSA – State Assessment of Learning and Student Achievement

TNT – The New Test