Education Committee Meeting Today at 10:00am

Live audio stream of committee meetings can be accessed by clicking the link below:


The above link will direct you to the Legislature’s audio page – which has a few different options.

For today’s 10:00am meeting, select:



North Carolina 2009 NAEP Science Test Results

January 25, 2011


North Carolina is reporting on the results of the fourth graders and eighth grades who participated in the National Assessment of Educational Progress in Science. NC has participated four times in this national assessment with a sampling of fourth and eight graders across the state. The National average in fourth grade was 149 and NC fourth grade students scored 148. NC eighth grades did not do as well scoring 144, while the National average score was 148. Only 24 percent of NC eight graders were deemed proficient, while 30 percent of fourth graders scored at or above the proficient level. Approximately 9,900 fourth and eighth graders participated in the NAEP Science assessment. More information the NEAP can be found in this DPI Press Release

or by pasting this link in your browser’s address field:


Sen. Stevens files bill to lift the Charter Cap

Read the article here:  Under the Dome: Charter Bill Filed

Read Senate Bill 8:  Click Here

PDF Version: Click Here

Two Excellent N&O Articles

December Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee

Education Report Links

December 17, 2010

Comprehensive Arts Education Plan:

Diagnostic Assessment Pilot:

DWI Vehicle Forfeiture:

EARN Scholarship Fund Final Report:

Headcount of Limited English Proficient Students:

Physical Education Scholarship Loan Program Final Report:

Professional Standards Teaching Commission Report:


Teacher Assistant Scholarship Loan Program:

Teacher Scholarship Loan Program:

Summary: November Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee

November 9, 2010

Co-Chairs Representative Yongue and Senator Foriest opened the meeting.

National Board Certification Program for Principals:

Joan Auchter, Chief Program Officer presented on the National Board Standards for Accomplished Principals. She reviewed the nine standards developed to become a National Board Principal. The standards are: Leadership for Results, Vision and Mission. Teaching and Learning, Knowledge of Students and Adults, Culture, Strategic Management, Advocacy, Ethics, and Reflection and Growth. More information can be found at the NBPTS website: NBPTS is working with the Southern Regional Education Board to pilot the test. Currently, 19 states and 660 principals are in the field test pool. North Carolina has 59 principals from 37 counties involved (more than any other state). The purpose of the field test is to get feedback on the assessment and to establish scoring materials and a passing standard. Principals involved in the test are submitting all work electronically. When asked about how many principals may be successful in getting their certification, Ms. Auchter noted, that 4 out of 10 teachers gain National Board certification, but it’s too early to know the success rate for principals until the field tests are completed.

Kris Nordstrom fiscal analyst presented on the fiscal impact of implementing this certification program at the state level. Certain assumptions are necessary. First certification is only for principals (not assistant principals). Next the model developed assumes 1.5 percent of all state-funded principals will earn certification, and once certified they would receive a 12 percent salary increase. For purposes of this cost estimate principals would assume the cost for the application fees.  The estimated cost is $320,000 per year in state funds to support the salary increase. After ten years the cost would require $3.6 million in state funds based on the assumptions in the model.

Committee Discussion: There were questions about the NC counties where principals were participating in the field test, salary increases for principals who have a PhD, and how does the PhD program differ from NBPTS certification.  Could institutions of higher education provide some of these standards as part of the principal’s education program? Can undergraduate degree programs be combined with certification? Can we quantify savings at the school with a certified principal directing the school program? What possible savings (reduced costs) can be gained for improved education at the school? Will a certified principal improve the graduation rate? Who will monitor the data? Several members are concerned about adding a program to the state education budget and the costs associated with the new program.

Race to the Top:

Bill Harrison presented an overview of the slightly less than $400 million 4-year grant that North Carolina was awarded this year. He advised members the funds are only for four years and they would not be coming back to the state to request those dollars be put into the education budget at the end of the grant. The purpose of the grant is “Building Capacity.” He mentioned reading a recent Education Week article, where it was reported 75 percent of US students in 4th grade were proficient in meeting state reading and math standards, when looking at the same results for these students on international standards the results are not as high. The Common Standards will help get most of the States on the same page for Reading and Math. Finally, he told members competent caring teacher and principals are critical to the success of the NC RttT plan.

Dr. June Atkinson spoke on the RttT grant as well. She noted NC is one of 11 states to receive that grant and the grant funding will be a “Game Changer” for NC.  It will provide NC with the funding to move faster and further in their reform efforts. The two key goals of the grant are 1) Increase the Graduation Rate from 74.2 percent statewide to 85 percent and 2) Strong student Achievement. All 115 LEAs and 44 charter schools have just submitted their scope of work plans to access their portion of the RttT grant funding. Not all of the charter schools were eligible to submit plans because the grant is tied to the Title I program and not all charter schools have a Title I program. Dr. Atkinson also noted that there are 111 low-performing schools in the state who will be assisted with the RttT grant funding. The RttT grant is like a contract and if NC wants to make changes to the contract they will be required to get approval from US Educcation. Department (USED).

Mr. Adam Levinson the director of the grant presented some key facts on the grant. The LEA funding portion is $165 million with $35 million being set aside for the Technology “Cloud” program. The remainder of the funding $199 million will be used by DPI to implement 15 additional strategies listed in the table below as well as funding from administration for the grant:


Coordinator Initiative Objectives Budget
Peter Asmar

Philip Price

Technology Infrastructures and Resources 1) Establish Technology “cloud.”

2) Digital tools and resources to support RttT.

3) Prepare educators to use online resources and tools.

$34,639,376 from LEA resources
Martez Hill Evaluation and Policy Analyses 1)  Ongoing evaluations to improve RttT initiatives.

2)  Summative analyses for future program, policy, and funding decisions.

3)  Conduct analyses of NC policies to consider removal of policy barriers and development of policy reforms.

Angela Quick Transition to new Standards and Assessments 1)  Gain stakeholder support for transition.

2)  Ensure teachers understand the new standards and assessments.

3)  Ensure Stakeholders understand and use summative assessments effectively.

Instructional Improvement and Professional development Budgets
Adam Levinson State Data Use 1)  Make NC data accessible to stakeholders.


2)  Ensure stakeholders are able to make use of the data.

3)  Data used to support decision-making and continuous improvement processes.

Professional Development Budget





Angela Quick Instructional Improvement System 1)  Increase the use of instructional improvement systems.

2)   Develop statewide instructional improvement system to support curriculum-embedded assessments, diagnostic assessments, curriculum monitoring, and summative assessments.

3)  Provide technology infrastructure to support instruction.

4)  Prepare teachers to make effective use of the instructional improvement.

5)  Improve student achievement outcomes.

Lynne Johnson/  Rebecca Garland Teacher and Principal Evaluation processes 1)  Fully implement the NC teacher and principal evaluation processes. $5,320,100
Pat Ashely Performance incentives for lowest achieving schools 1) Opportunities to earn incentives based on student performance.

2)  Transition to classroom-level incentives by 2012-2013.

Lynne Johnson/ Rebecca Garland Teacher effectiveness and evaluation planning 1)  Develop a state-level transparent system for integrating student achievement growth data into evaluations for all teachers and principals. $700,840
Lynne Johnson/

Bill Harrison

Regional Leadership Academies 1)  Increase the number of principals qualified to lead transformational change in low-performing schools and in rural and urban areas. $18,608,809
Lynne Johnson Expand Teacher recruitment and licensure programs 1)  Increase the number of Teach for America teachers in low-performing schools.

2)  NC Teacher Corps recruit college graduates to teach in low-performing schools.

3)  Induction support program for new teachers including, a 3-year support for teachers in low-achieving schools.

Lynne Johnson Strategic staffing initiatives 1)  Support development, implementation, and evaluation programs to strengthen staffing in low-performing schools. $250,000
Bryan Setser NC Virtual Public School Expansion 1)  Expand availability of virtual courses in Math and Science for low-performing schools and other schools where curriculum may be limited. $6,456,023
Lynne Johnson Research on effective of teachers and principals 1)  Use data and lessons to make decisions about program improvements, expansion and closures. N/A
Lynne Johnson Professional Development 1)  Create, train, and support teachers and principals as professional development leaders to establish professional development capacity.

2)  Develop resources to support effective professional activities.

3)  Align professional development with reform initiative in RttT plan.

4)  Expand online professional development infrastructures.

5)  Evaluate professional development activities to determine impact on teaching practices and student achievement.

Pat Ashley District and School Transformation System 1)    Improve performance of all low-performing schools to move all schools above 60 percent level. $41,980,147
June Atkinson Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics thematic schools and network 1)    Develop four coordinated STEM schools each focused on a major area relevant for NC economic development.

2)    Use anchor schools as centers for professional development, curriculum development, technology use, and innovation to impact networks of STEM schools throughout NC lowest-achieving schools.


*Please note in preparing this overview the external partners who may receive contracts or who have contracts pending for the grant funds were not listed to simplify the table. If you would like a list of the partners please submit a request for the information.


The plan is to raise statewide achievement standards. The SBE provided updated student achievement targets at their November meeting last week. Each LEA and charter school will set their own targets based on their present student achievement levels. NC is anticipating release of the federal funding by early December. Staff noted the entire sum will be sent once the State plan is approved by USED. The LEAs will then have full access to their funding. All of the money could be used immediately or through the next four years.

Committee Discussion: Members raised concerns about the assessment inconsistency footnote. As tests/assessments change to match the new Common Core Standards curriculum, how can you correlate data on student test scores against older test data. Another member addressed the issue of using the Common Core standards. Overall, there appeared to be concerns about how the one-time $400 million funding would be spent, and who would monitor, and oversee the use of funds to ensure the goals were being achieved.


The Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee is scheduled to meet December 7th.


A Hint of Things to Come from NC Policy Watch

Fitzsimon File

A hint of things to come

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

By Chris Fitzsimon

If you are wondering how the new Republican majorities in the General Assembly will handle the state’s $3.5 billion shortfall next year, a few statements in the last few days provide some clues.

The leading candidates for House Speaker, Representative Paul Stam and Representative Thom Tillis, appeared this weekend on the WRAL-TV public affairs show On the Record along with NC GOP Chair Tom Fetzer.

The program started with a news story about the potential cuts to services to people with disabilities and included a comment from an official with the ARC of North Carolina, a group that provides services to the disabled and advocates on their behalf. She said that deep cuts on top of the ones made in the last two years would be devastating and pointed out that 7,000 people are currently on the waiting list for help.

A few minutes after the story, host David Crabtree asked Fetzer if it would be a public relations problem for the Republican Party if its legislative leaders followed through on their pledge not to raise any new revenue to address the shortfall and made it up by deeply slashing the state budget and cutting services like the ones featured in the story.

Public relations may have been an odd thing to ask about, but Fetzer’s response was far more troubling. He told Crabtree that “we need people to get in charge and do what’s best for the whole state of North Carolina and if some special interests get trimmed along the way, then so be it.”

The message was clear. People with disabilities are a special interest. Anybody who opposes the Republicans’ efforts to cut 20 percent or more from education and human services must be a special interest too, people with a mental illness, teachers, at-risk kids.

It’s not much different than what the head of the Locke Foundation calls advocates for people who need services or teachers who speak out for smaller classes—he lumps then all together in what he calls the “spending lobby” in Raleigh, people he thinks should be ignored or run over when it comes time to write the budget.

Tillis said shortly after the election last week that the cuts the Republicans plan to make could lead to “legitimate, sad stories about people who may end up suffering,” presumably Fetzer’s “special interests.”

Stam told Crabtree that the university system is likely to suffer severe cuts next year and that may be an understatement. Another staff member of the Locke Foundation, whose right-wing budget proposals are a blueprint for Republicans, told a reporter that some campuses of the UNC system may have to be consolidated or closed.

That was the worst case scenario outlined by outgoing UNC President Erskine Bowles last week at his last meeting with the Board of Governors.

But it’s not a worst case scenario at all to the folks at the Locke Foundation and the Republican leaders with their dogmatic refusal to consider raising new revenue. It’s an opportunity, a chance to dismantle the government they loathe, regardless of the damage and pain it creates. Calling the most vulnerable people in the state a special interest hardly makes it okay to hurt them.



A must read for new lawmakers

By Chris Fitzsimon

The debate about how to address the state’s anticipated $4 billion budget shortfall has already begun in next year’s General Assembly, two months before the new Republican majorities in the House and Senate are sworn in and elect their leaders.

Republican legislators are repeating their vow to address the massive shortfall with cuts alone and refuse to consider raising any new revenue to protect vital state programs from devastating reductions.

It’s a point reinforced almost daily by the radical right-wing propaganda machine that provided the ideologically-biased polls and anti-government talking points for Republicans throughout the recent campaign.

Slash and burn is the plan, $4 billion worth, from public schools, mental health programs, and health care services for children and the disabled.  That’s what coming. You can count on it.

The head of Raleigh’s most well-known right-wing think tank, a place that Republicans routine look to for direction,  said Thursday that the new majorities should eliminate both of the state’s national recognized early childhood programs, Smart Start and More at Four because there’s no evidence that they work.

He said the money saved could be used better elsewhere, like to balance the budget.  The comments are not surprising. Similar comments have been made in recent months by a long list of Republicans who seem to have very little understanding of what the programs do and how they work.

Ironically, the comments came roughly an hour after a comprehensive study of More at Four from the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at UNC-CH was released at the State Board of Education meeting.

Every legislator should read it. Researchers found that low income children who attended the More at Four pre-k program narrowed the achievement gap with their middle-class counterparts by as much as 40 percent by the third-grade.

That’s exactly what More at Four was designed to do, help at-risk kids catch up in the early grades so they don’t begin school far behind their classmates and become more likely to struggle throughout their school years and eventually drop out.

The report is just the latest confirmation by the Institute that More at Four works. Previous studies have shown that the program provides high-quality classroom learning that leads to high rates of achievement growth, particularly by kids most at risk of failure.

Critics of More at Four, including the right-wing think tanker who dismissed it so cavalierly Thursday, often claim that whatever gains children make from the program fade away as the kids get older.

It’s an odd criticism to make. No one believes that at-risk kids stop being at risk when they leave kindergarten.  Many of the factors that caused them to fall behind in the first place are still there. But at least now the kids have a fighting chance and can benefit from additional help to keep them on track.

The claim also ignores compelling evidence from studies that have followed kids from pre-k programs into adulthood and found their lives to be vastly better than at-risk kids who did not have the chance to catch up before kindergarten.

There was plenty of evidence before this latest report was released that pre-k programs like More at Four make an important difference in children’s lives.

The new study that involves a data set of more 200,000 kids ought to remove any doubts, even among members of the new conservative majorities.

All they have to do is open their minds and take an honest look.


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