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The Friday Report

September 7, 2018

Forum News

This Week on Education Matters:

One-on-One with State Superintendent Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson was elected nearly two years ago as State Superintendent of Public Instruction. For much of his tenure he was engaged in a power struggle with the State Board of Education over who’s in charge of public education. Now that the NC Supreme Court has sided with Johnson and the General Assembly, he’s moved quickly to restructure the Department, creating new leadership positions, replacing senior staff and pushing ahead on several key initiatives. As the new school year begins, we sit down with Superintendent Johnson to discuss his top priorities and the key issues facing education in North Carolina.

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When and Where to Watch Education Matters

Sunday at 8:00 AM, FOX 50

(Raleigh/Durham/Fayetteville)

Sunday at 6:30 AM and Wednesday at 9:30 AM, UNC-TV’s North Carolina Channel (Statewide)

Education Matters will be preempted on WRAL due to network sports programming.

The North Carolina Channel can be found on Time Warner Cable/Spectrum Channel 1276 or check your local listings and other providers here.

Online at https://www.ncforum.org/.

Education Matters is also available as a podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher, Overcast, and Google Play Music.

Resilience & Learning: The First Year on an Important Journey

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Training with two of the Project’s new Resilience Teams in Rowan-Salisbury Schools (Overton Elementary and Hurley Elementary) focused on trauma’s impact on learning and behavior and starting to give staff tools and resources to create change for safer and more supportive learning environments for kids. These teams will be the champions of this work in their schools as they continue to meet and receive ongoing coaching throughout the year. Photo Credit: Christy Lockhart, Resilience & Learning Program Coordinator.

By Elizabeth DeKonty

Director, NC Resilience & Learning Project 

It has been nearly a year since I first met the staff of the three schools that would participate in our NC Resilience and Learning Project pilot year. One of the most memorable days of this past year was the very first training we did with the core teams we were working with at Stocks Elementary and Pattillo Middle, both in Edgecombe County Public Schools.

As we began the training by discussing what trauma is, giving an overview of the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and talking about the impact trauma has on children’s ability to learn, you could sense the shift in the room as more and more staff started having their own personal “a-ha” moments. Throughout the day, staff were talking to each other about the trauma they knew their students were experiencing. We heard stories of physical and sexual abuse, kids coming to school hungry and sleep-deprived and not able to stay awake in class, and students they knew living in homes with domestic violence and substance abuse. These staff knew so much about their students’ lives outside of the classroom. They knew that they were coming to school with more than just the books in their backpacks. They knew they were coming to school with fear and pain and anxiety and stress and horrific memories, all as a result of what many of them were experiencing at home. And they knew that these traumatic experiences were directly impacting their students’ ability to learn, their behavior, and their relationships with peers and adults.

What these staff didn’t know was how to help these students, yet they were desperate to learn. We talked about the body’s fight, flight, and freeze response and how this is our body’s way of helping to protect us from danger and threat, but how for students who have experienced trauma, they are constantly in survival mode responding in one of these three ways, even at school. We asked staff to share how they see the fight, flight, and freeze response show up in their students and they immediately began shouting out example after example of how they see it every single day. They see kids yelling and using verbal aggression toward staff and their peers (fight), they see younger kids sprint out of the classroom trying to run away or kids who have horrible attendance and just don’t come to school (flight), and they see the kids in the back of the room who refuse to speak to anyone and prefer to sit alone (freeze). As they made this connection, they became eager to learn what it was they could do to better support these students and create a more positive learning environment.

The last part of our training with them included a time of sharing resources and specific strategy ideas to think about using that create a safer and more supportive learning environment. There was a buzz in the room as staff started sharing ideas with each other and taking notes on things they wanted to do going into the new school year. The day ended with high energy and with one of the principals coming up to me with her calendar and pen in hand ready to ask us how soon we could come and give the training to the rest of her staff because she did not want to wait another day to get them this information. As the day ended with this level of excitement, I became more eager and excited to get started, and more confident about the value and necessity of the work we were about to embark on.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

DeKonty, E. “Resilience & Learning: The first year on an important journey.” Public School Forum of NC. 

Color of Education: An Evening with Nikole Hannah-Jones 

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This fall, the Public School Forum of North Carolina, in partnership with Duke Policy Bridge and the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University, will host the first in a series of annual summits and convenings focused on race, equity and education in North Carolina under the banner “Color of Education.” The kick-off event will feature award-winning New York Times Magazine reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones. 

Color of Education: An Evening with Nikole Hannah-Jones

When: Tuesday, October 2nd at 6:00 PM

 

Where: Duke University at Penn Pavilion

This event is now SOLD OUT.

This event is sponsored in part by Fidelity Investments, the Grable Foundation, the John M. Belk Endowment, the Maynard Family Foundation, and UPS. To learn more about sponsorship opportunities, click here.

In This Issue

This Week on Education Matters: One-on-One with State Superintendent Mark Johnson

Resilience & Learning: The First Year on an Important Journey

Color of Education: An Evening with Nikole Hannah-Jones

Test Scores Are Down in NC Public Schools. What Needs to Change?

State Board Strife, School Performance Grades, and More

NC Superintendent Accuses Board of Being ‘Petty,’ ‘Hostile’ as Members Urge Him to be More Transparent

Six NC Schools Under Consideration for Innovative School District

Why North Carolina’s Youngest Students Will Get Some Relief From Testing This Year

State Launches $35 Million School Safety Grant Program

UNCP Enrollment Rises to Record

Teachers Are Paid Almost 20 Percent Less Than Similar Professionals, Analysis Finds

Study: Math Scores Drop For Low-Income Students Who Use Vouchers for Private Schools

Private School Advantages Overhyped, Study Says

Beginning Teacher Leadership Network (BTLN) Applications Open for 2018-19

America to Me: Real Talk Campaign

Women in Educational Leadership Symposium

Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Awards for Science and Mathematics Teachers

Public School Forum Programs

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Nominate a Leader for Children in Your Community

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Do you know a leader in your community supporting our schools and making a difference in the lives of children both in and out of school? The Public School Forum is seeking nominations for individuals to be highlighted on our weekly statewide TV show, Education Matters. Click here for an example of a recent spotlight.

Nominees could be principals, superintendents, teachers, teacher assistants, guidance counselors, parents, students, business leaders, community volunteers, afterschool providers, and the list goes on!

To nominate someone, please fill out the form at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/educationmatters.

State News

Test Scores Are Down in NC Public Schools. What Needs to Change?

Fewer North Carolina public school students passed state exams this year, with the decline increasing over time for students in third grade despite a state push to get young children reading at grade level.

New state results from the 2017-18 school year released Wednesday also show that the state’s 12-year streak of rising high school graduation rates has ended. But state leaders say the graduation results can’t be compared to previous years because of changes in how the rates are now calculated.

State education leaders pointed to positives Wednesday about how the majority of schools are meeting growth expectations on state exams and that the number of low-performing schools has dropped.

But the new test results also showed several areas of decline. 

An area where the scores seem to be going in reverse is performance of third-grade students on the state’s end-of-grade reading exam. State legislators created the Read To Achieve program in 2012 with the goal of trying to get students proficient in reading by the end of third grade.

The passing rate on the third-grade reading exams is now at 55.9 percent. It was at 60.2 percent in the 2013-14 school year and 57.8 percent in the 2016-17 school year.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Hui, T. “Test scores are down in NC public schools. What needs to change?” The News & Observer. 9/5/18.

State Board Strife, School Performance Grades, and More

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Left to right, Superintendent Mark Johnson, State Board Chair Bill Cobey, and Governor Roy Cooper, at the September 2018 meeting of the State Board of Education. Photo Credit: Alex Granados, EducationNC.

The State Board of Education meeting this month was packed full of news, between the release of the annual School Performance Grades, the announcement of schools that could potentially join the Innovative School District, and continued strife between the State Board and Superintendent Mark Johnson. Here’s a rundown of what happened.

State Board strife

The conversation between Superintendent Mark Johnson and State Board of Education members got heated a number of times during the first day of the Board meeting. It began with questions over $6 million that Johnson used to purchase iPads for every reading teacher in the state. Johnson said the money was Read to Achieve funding leftover from 2016 that was meant to go to the classroom but never did.

An article by Billy Ball of NC Policy Watch also raised concerns about the process by which the iPads were purchased and an expenditure by Apple of more than $5,300 to bring Johnson and others to visit the company’s headquarters in Silicon Valley.

On Wednesday, Board Co-Chair Eric Davis expressed his displeasure with the fact that the State Board wasn’t informed about the purchases.“It’s embarrassing to have constituents ask about a major DPI purchase of iPads for reading teachers after the fact,” he said. “Why weren’t we informed?”

At the Board meeting, Johnson pleaded for cooperation between the Board and himself. “I’ve moved on, the Department’s moved on. We are happy to work with you on these things that we are accomplishing,” he said.

There has been tension between the Board and Johnson ever since he came into office and the General Assembly passed House Bill 17, which transferred some of the State Board’s powers to Johnson. The Board sued over the legislation, ultimately losing at the Supreme Court. Since then, Johnson has reorganized the State Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and taken the Board out of the loop when it comes to decisions regarding DPI.

The back and forth continued, with various State Board members challenging Johnson’s decision and the fact that he didn’t tell the Board about the purchase ahead of time. Johnson suggested that this kind of tense discussion shouldn’t take place at official Board meetings.

State Board Departures

For Board Chair Bill Cobey and Board members Greg Alcorn and Becky Taylor, this week was the final week they are serving on the State Board of Education. Acting Vice Chair Eric Davis was elected Thursday by the Board to be chair and relative newcomer, Alan Duncan, was elected to be Vice Chair. 

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

NC Superintendent Accuses Board of Being ‘Petty,’ ‘Hostile’ as Members Urge Him to be More Transparent

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State Superintendent Mark Johnson accused members of the State Board of Education of instigating petty fights with him and creating a hostile environment after several members questioned his recent decisions, including spending $6 million on iPads for teachers, and urged him to be more transparent with them and the public.

This week’s contentious meetings were the latest in a nearly two-year battle between the board and superintendent over who should control the state’s public schools – a fight that made its way to the North Carolina Supreme Court this year. Johnson, who claimed victory in the case, repeatedly urged board members on Wednesday to “move on” – a phrase he uttered more than a dozen times during the heated meeting.

“The department has moved on. I have moved on. We are willing to work together,” he told board members. “Let’s not have a back and forth at board meetings anymore.” Board members who are unhappy or have questions about decisions he makes should contact him privately instead of engaging in “petty” discussions during public meetings, the superintendent said.

“I just want to stop what’s happening here and just again say, Why are we having this back and forth at a board meeting?” Johnson said. “If this is something you were concerned about, you have my cellphone number. You have my email. I have never refused a meeting with any state board member. This, this is not good.”

“The public’s entitled to know this stuff. You know that, Mark,” said state board member Wayne McDevitt.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Six NC Schools Under Consideration for Innovative School District

Dr. Eric Hall, Deputy State Superintendent of Innovation and founding Superintendent of the North Carolina Innovative School District (ISD), announced this week the names of the qualifying low-performing, schools in the state and those that will be considered for inclusion in the ISD for the 2019-20 school year. The qualifying list, which includes both rural and urban schools, is determined by school performance data provided by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s Accountability Division.

The ISD narrowed down the list of 14 qualifying schools to a list of 6 schools under final consideration. The 6 qualifying schools under consideration for transfer into the ISD are as follows:

  • Carver Heights Elementary – Wayne County Public Schools
  • Gaston Middle – Northampton County Schools
  • Hillcrest Elementary – Alamance Burlington Schools
  • Williford Elementary – Nash-Rocky Mount Schools
  • Fairview Elementary – Guilford County Schools
  • Hall-Woodward Elementary – Forsyth County Schools

The ISD will now begin the task of selecting two to four schools for transfer into the ISD for the 2019-2020 school year.

By law, once a school is selected for the ISD, the school district must either turn over operations of the school to a charter management operator hired by the state or close the school.

Excerpt from:

NC Innovative School District. “Qualifying Schools Announced for Possible Inclusion in the NC Innovative School District.” 9/5/18.

Why North Carolina’s Youngest Students Will Get Some Relief From Testing This Year

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N.C. Schools Superintendent Mark Johnson reads a book to kindergartners during his visit at East Garner Elementary School in Garner, N.C., on April 3, 2017. Johnson recently announced new state guidelines reducing how often K-3 students are required to be tested on their reading skills during the school year.

Photo Credit: Aaron Moody, News & Observer.

At a time when there are concerns that students are being tested too much, new statewide changes this school year should reduce how much time North Carolina’s youngest students spend taking tests.

The state Department of Public Instruction is no longer requiring that kindergarten through third-grade teachers give certain tests designed to assess how well students are doing in the Read to Achieve program. In a memo announcing the changes last week, State Schools Superintendent Mark Johnson cited how 76 percent of educators who responded to a May survey said students are tested too much.

“We hope these changes help reduce the amount of time you must assess students as well as how much your students feel like they are being tested,” Johnson said in the memo sent to elementary school educators shortly before the start of the new school year.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Hui, T. “Why North Carolina’s youngest students will get some relief from testing this year.” The News & Observer. 9/1/18.

State Launches $35 Million School Safety Grant Program

Schools across North Carolina will be able to get help securing their buildings and hiring more security and mental health professionals, the state announced Tuesday.

State School Superintendent Mark Johnson announced a $35 million school safety grants program Tuesday morning. While simple things can improve school safety, like requiring staff to wear ID tags and having visitors to check in when entering a school, it’s important to create awareness that a troubled student’s first cry for help is often visible, on the phone, on social media, Johnson said.

School resource officers are often the first ones to spot and diffuse potential threats. “The key is relationship, just be there when they need you,” said school resource officer Deputy Hector Araujo. “Some of them will come up to me and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got an issue. Can I speak to you in private?’”

The state’s safe school initiative will fund hundreds of new school resource officers statewide. Johnson said the grant money will also fund mental health programs. Currently, the state has one school psychologist for every 2,100 students. The recommendation is one for every 700 students.

Heather Lynch Boling, president of the North Carolina School Psychology Association, said the state has 75 school psychologist vacancies. Some psychologists serve as many as seven schools, she said. “I fear that is when we run into problem, and we don’t find the right kids and get them the right help,” Boling said.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Lamb, A. “State launches $35 million school safety grant.” :WRAL. 9/4/18.

UNCP Enrollment Rises to Record

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There are 7,137 students at UNCP this fall semester, an increase of 885 over fall of 2017 and the most students in the university’s history. UNCP officials are pointing toward NC Promise as a reason why.

The University of North Carolina at Pembroke has seen a 14 percent increase in student enrollment this fall compared with fall 2017, and the NC Promise initiative is being given credit. Fall enrollment jumped to 7,137 from 6,252 this past year, an increase of 885 students, according to information provided by campus officials, and the most in school history. The previous record enrollment at the school was in the fall of 2010 when 6,944 students enrolled.

Andy Mendez, 20, a junior at UNCP, said he has seen the results of the NC Promise firsthand. “There are a lot more freshmen here because of the NC Promise,” he said. “Many were going to community college, but when they found about it (NC Promise) they came here.”

The initiative lowered tuition for semester for in-state students to $500 and to $2,500 for out-of-state students. It also promises not to raise the tuition while the students are at UNCP. That is a reduction of about $2,600 a year for in-state students, and $10,000 a year for out of state.

The fall enrollment includes 2,867 new students, according to UNCP officials. The campus also has seen a spike in continuing students and a 5 percent retention rate increase.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Pollard, D. “UNCP enrollment rises to record.” The Robesonian. 9/2/18.

National News

Teachers Are Paid Almost 20 Percent Less Than Similar Professionals, Analysis Finds

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The wage gap between teachers and comparable professionals has grown over time, with teachers now earning 18.7 percent less than other college-educated workers, according to a new analysis.

A new paper published by the Economic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank supported by labor unions, found that the “teacher wage penalty” has increased significantly—teachers earned just 1.8 percent less than comparable workers in 1994. And although teachers do receive better benefits packages than their college-educated peers, those benefits only mitigate part of the gap: Including benefits, teachers face an 11 percent compensation penalty.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Will, M. “Teachers Are Paid Almost 20 Percent Less Than Similar Professionals, Analysis Finds.” Education Week. 9/5/2018.

Study: Math Scores Drop for Low-Income Students Who Use Vouchers for Private Schools

Low-income Indiana students who use vouchers to attend private schools experienced drops in their math scores for several years, according to results of a new study. The results raise questions about the notion that poor students benefit from school choice by being able to attend private schools.

The study was conducted by two researchers: Mark Berends, a professor of sociology and director of the Center for Research on Educational Opportunity at the University of Notre Dame, and Joseph Waddington, a professor at the University of Kentucky. “In some ways, this surprised us. A lot of studies to date have found no effects (on math scores among voucher students) or even some positive effects in some students in some years,” Berends said in an interview.

The study was based on educational results of 34,587 students in 871 public schools, and 3,363 voucher students in 265 private schools. The schools and students were not identified in the study.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Fosmoe, M. “Study: Math scores drop for low-income students who use vouchers for private schools.” South Bend Tribune. 9/3/18.

Private School Advantages Overhyped, Study Says

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Popular depictions of private schools vary in tone, but audiences tend to get a uniform picture of glamorous institutions that kids would be lucky to attend. From the supernatural instruction of the Harry Potter books to the wan posing of Dead Poets Society, there’s always something attractive about the hijinks that unfold on a private school campus.

But the advantages of attending private school are overhyped, according to new research. Once family and socioeconomic circumstances are accounted for, the authors found that private school students realize virtually no special benefits in comparison with those enrolled in traditional public schools.

Published in the journal Educational Researcher, the study was co-authored by Robert Pianta, dean of the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, along with research associate Arya Ansari. Pianta has previously written in favor of public education’s benefits in comparison with private alternatives, arguing that the Trump administration’s “fixation on vouchers” represents an abandonment of the ideal of egalitarian schools.

The findings add another data point to the long-running discussion among researchers about the effectiveness of vouchers. Studies of the rare — and still mostly new — private school choice programs in a handful of cities and states around the country have shown that students receiving vouchers actually performed worse in standardized tests than they might have otherwise, though parents of those students are more likely to report satisfaction in their new schools. Other research suggests that, after initial losses, voucher students in Louisiana typically made up ground in later years.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Mahnken, K .”Private School Advantages Overhyped, Study Says, Offering Fodder to Vouchers’ Critics.” The 74 Million. 9/4/18.

Opportunities

Beginning Teacher Leadership Network Applications Open for 2018-19

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Applications are now open for the Beginning Teacher Leadership Network (BTLN) for 2018-2019! Interested teachers can apply online here

The application is open through Saturday, September 15th and is open to teachers in their 1st-3rd years of teaching in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Wake, Cabarrus, Carteret and Union County schools.

For more on the Forum’s BTLN, visit https://www.ncforum.org/beginning-teacher-leadership-network/.

America to Me: Real Talk Campaign

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In the new STARZ unscripted documentary series “America to Me,” Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams, Life Itself) examines racial, economic and class issues in contemporary American education. America to Me opens the doors to a high school outside of Chicago, where students and teachers struggle to navigate crucial issues of race, identity, and education.

They’re starting an important conversation. Join them by registering your watch group in the “America To Me: Real Talk Campaign” with thousands across the country! Get your own community, classroom, and family talking about these issues to build understanding and open doors to opportunity and parity – no matter one’s race.

To register your watch group, visit: 

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf72S4GGc44Q_w3GHpbtrlu0dtSTqfwyecflG8lioI_EvTK_w/viewform

To learn more, visit: https://www.americatomerealtalk.com/

Look for information about special North Carolina screenings coming soon in Charlotte and Durham.

Women in Educational Leadership Symposium

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Registration is open for the third annual Women in Educational Leadership Symposium (WIELS). The purpose of WIELS is to bring women together to share, learn, and grow in leadership. This conference aims to provide personalized learning and mentoring opportunities for those who aspire to become or currently serve as educational leaders.

The symposium will be held October 5 through October 6, 2018 at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. This year’s conference theme is Advancing the Leader Within: Building Capacity.

Registration for the conference is online at https://wiels.appstate.edu/about-us/registration. Additional information can be found at https://wiels.appstate.edu/.

Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Awards for Science and Mathematics Teachers

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The Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award for Science and Math Teachers (CASMT) application is now available online. The Career Award for Science and Mathematics Teachers is a five-year award available to outstanding science and/or mathematics teachers in the North Carolina public primary and secondary schools. The purpose of this award is to recognize teachers who have demonstrated solid knowledge of science and/or mathematics content and have outstanding performance records in educating children. The deadline for submission is September 24th, 2018For more information or to access the application, visit https://www.bwfund.org/grant-programs/science-education/career-awards-science-and-mathematics-teachers.

The Friday Report is published weekly by the Public School Forum of NC and is distributed to Forum members, policymakers, donors, media, and Forum subscribers. Archived editions can be found at www.ncforum.org.

©2018 Public School Forum of North Carolina. All Rights Reserved.

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