• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly
  • Google+
  • Buffer
  • LinkedIn
Happy Thanksgiving from the Public School Forum! The Friday Report will be back on December 2nd after the Thanksgiving holiday.

This Weekend on Education Matters: Election 2016

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly
  • Google+
  • Buffer
  • LinkedIn

This week’s episode of Education Matters, the Forum’s weekly television program airing on Sundays at 11:30 a.m. on WRAL-TV, focuses on the recent election and what it means for education policy in North Carolina.

What will the 2016 election mean for education policy in North Carolina? This week’s show features the following guests:

  • Rick Glazier, Executive Director, NC Justice Center
  • Dr. Terry Stoops, Director of Education Studies, John Locke Foundation
  • Mark Jewell, President, NC Association of Educators (NCAE)
  • Leanne Winner, Director, Governmental Relations, NC School Boards Association (NCSBA)

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly
  • Google+
  • Buffer
  • LinkedIn

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly
  • Google+
  • Buffer
  • LinkedIn

Previous episodes of the show have covered NC’s teacher pipeline, declining school resources, expanding educational opportunityteacher pay, school finance, and Hurricane Matthew recovery.

On Saturday, November 26, 2016 Education Matters moves to its new, permanent time slot – Saturdays at 7:30 PM on WRAL-TV following On the Record with David Crabtree.

Each Education Matters show profiles a education leader that is making a difference in his or her community. Do you have a great leader in your local school? Nominate them today! We are seeking leaders who make a difference in their school each and every day. To nominate an education leader, please fill out the form here.
Education Matters is available online on the Forum website and on wral.com by searching for Education Matters.

State News

‘A Lot of Things to Celebrate’: Dr. June Atkinson Reflects on Time as State Superintendent

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly
  • Google+
  • Buffer
  • LinkedIn
A bittersweet change is ahead for State School Superintendent June Atkinson after losing her reelection bid last week. Atkinson is the longest serving state superintendent in the country and was the first woman to hold the job in North Carolina. She said the thought of leaving the job has been tough for her.

“One thing that I have are the memories of working really hard for each student in our state, so I find that very rewarding,” she said. 

Election night was a shock to Atkinson, who lost the position she has held for three terms to Mark Johnson, a school board member in Winston-Salem. “I was really saddened and shocked that I lost the election,” she said.

Atkinson has led the North Carolina Public School System since 2005, but there was more she wanted to do and she said the fight for more school funding must continue.

To continue reading the complete article, click here

Excerpt from: 

Bowen, J. “‘A lot of things to celebrate’: Atkinson reflects on time as state superintendent.” WRAL. 11/14/16.

In This Issue

This Weekend on Education Matters: Election 2016

Applications Open for 2017-18 Kenan Fellowships

NC Science, Mathematics and Technology Education Center Seeks Award Nominations

Public School Forum Programs

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly
  • Google+
  • Buffer
  • LinkedIn

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly
  • Google+
  • Buffer
  • LinkedIn

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly
  • Google+
  • Buffer
  • LinkedIn

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly
  • Google+
  • Buffer
  • LinkedIn

Mark Johnson Prepares to Take Over as NC Superintendent

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly
  • Google+
  • Buffer
  • LinkedIn

Republican Mark Johnson comes to the job of the state’s education chief promising to shake off the status quo, and is himself a nontraditional choice for state superintendent of public instruction.

Johnson is a lawyer for a technology firm in Winston-Salem who has been on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school board for about two years. In last week’s elections he defeated Democrat June Atkinson, who has been the state’s education chief for 11 years and worked at DPI for about 28 years before she won the statewide office.

Two years as a Teach for America corps member at West Charlotte High School helped shaped Johnson’s views on public education, convincing him that problems need “hands-on solutions.”

He taught earth science to ninth-graders in a school where many students lived in poverty and struggled with classwork. Some students didn’t know whether they would eat at night. He knew one student lived in a motel.

In Johnson’s classes, he had students older than the typical freshmen; they had been held back. He tells the story about a 17-year-old student, someone who did not regularly attend class, who came to class one day eager to do the assignment. The student sat down for the silent reading exercise, but confessed to Johnson a few minutes later that he could not read it.

“I realized that I was ready, if given the opportunity, to devote my life to making sure in my lifetime that all students have the opportunity to succeed,” Johnson said. “Through my experiences, I realized that opportunity is not available to every student in this country, and it needs to be.”

He also became convinced that “more of the same” won’t improve public education in the state, he said.

Later, Johnson concluded through his work on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school board that local districts need more support from DPI for their ideas, and that the state requires too much testing. A new federal law has given the state the opportunity to evaluate its testing program and focus on tests that help students, he said.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Method of Allocating State Funds to School Districts Could Change

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly
  • Google+
  • Buffer
  • LinkedIn

Sean Hamel, Principal Program Evaluator of the General Assembly’s Program Evaluation Division, answers questions during Wednesday’s meeting of the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee.

Photo Credit: Alex Granados, EducationNC

Legislators met Wednesday to discuss problems with the way in which the state distributes K-12 funding to North Carolina schools.

During a lengthy presentation to the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee, lawmakers heard details of a report that suggests either extensive reforms to the current system or a complete overhaul that would change the system to one that uses a “weighted student formula.” Basically, under that model, a base amount of money is allocated for each student in the state, with additional funds added to that amount for students with extra needs. School districts would get their funding in this manner, rather than being provided money for specific categories such as teachers, textbooks, etc.

Of the problems found with the current model of K-12 funding distribution, a summary of the report states:

“The Program Evaluation Division found issues with individual allotments or issues that span numerous allotments, ranging from unintended consequences of particular methods and formulaic policies and procedures to a lack of rationale for the factors used to determine how resources are distributed. The Division also identified deficiencies with the allotment system as a whole resulting from overall system complexity and lapses in the control environment.”

The Committee voted to “endorse” the report, created by the Program Evaluation Division of the General Assembly, and directed the staff to prepare draft legislation to create a task force of legislators to study overhauling the allotment system into one that uses a “weighted student formula.”

That draft will come back before the Committee in December for further discussion and perhaps a vote.

For a summary of the report, as well as the final report and other documents related to the meeting, go here.

Reprinted from:

Granados, A. “Method of allocating state funds to school districts could change.” EducationNC. 11/17/16.

Wake County’s Jim Merrill Named NC Superintendent of the Year

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly
  • Google+
  • Buffer
  • LinkedIn

Wake County School Superintendent, Dr. Jim Merrill speaks with reporters during a press conference in 2013.

Photo Credit: Travis Long, News & Observer.

Wake County Superintendent Jim Merrill was named the 2017 North Carolina Superintendent of the Year on Thursday, marking the third time he’s won recognition as a state’s top school administrator.

The N.C. Association of School Administrators gave the award to Merrill, who was one of eight regional finalists for the honor, at a ceremony in Greensboro. Merrill will represent North Carolina in the national Superintendent of the Year competition.

Wake school board Chairman Tom Benton said it is a well-deserved honor for Merrill. Benton said Merrill, who was hired as Wake’s superintendent in June 2013, has brought stability back to the state’s largest school system.

“People have often forgotten that just three short years ago our system was struggling from a lack of direction,” Benton said in an interview Thursday. “We had something like four superintendents in seven years. “So one of the tasks of the board was to find not just a visionary leader, but someone who could restore confidence. Dr. Merrill has done that.”

Merrill had replaced Superintendent Tony Tata after Tata’s contentious firing by the school board in September 2012.

Merrill was crowned 2005 North Carolina Superintendent of the Year when he was leading the Alamance-Burlington School System. He was named 2013 Virginia Superintendent of the Year when he was leading Virginia Beach City Public Schools.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Hui, T. “Wake County’s Jim Merrill named NC Superintendent of the Year.” The News & Observer. 11/17/16.

Study: NC Preschool Programs Yield Long-Lasting Gains for Children

Children who were enrolled in North Carolina’s early childhood programs performed better throughout elementary school, with gains lasting through fifth grade, according to a study by Duke University researchers.

The findings were published Thursday in the journal Child Development. Researchers at the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy analyzed data on more than 1 million North Carolina public school children born between 1988 and 2000, including those who had been enrolled in the state’s Smart Start child care program and More at Four, the prekindergarten program now known as NC Pre-K.

Children who had been in the state programs had higher test scores, less grade retention and fewer special education placements through fifth grade, according to the study.

The new research seems to contradict studies in other states that suggest the benefits of pre-K may fade over time. Duke researchers say the positive effects for North Carolina children held steady or even grew over the years.

Children living in counties with average levels of Smart Start and More at Four funding saw improved educational outcomes by the end of fifth grade – a gain of six months of reading instruction and three months in math, according to the study. The children also had significantly higher math and reading scores in grades three, four and five.

“These programs in North Carolina are having the impact they were intended to have,” said the study’s lead author, Kenneth Dodge, professor of public policy, psychology and neuroscience at Duke. “These are investments worth making.”

Both programs reduced the odds that children would end up in special education. The impact was most pronounced among More at Four participants, whose chance of special education placement was cut by 48 percent in fifth grade. Their chance of being held back during elementary school was lowered by 29 percent.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

NC on Track to Spend $24 Million this Academic Year on Taxpayer-Funded School Vouchers

By the end of the 2016-17 academic year, North Carolina is on track to disburse roughly $24 million in taxpayer-funded school vouchers to thousands of families across the state who are using public dollars to attend private schools that are held to virtually no measures of accountability or transparency.

According to the NC State Education Assistance Authority, the state agency administering the Opportunity Scholarship program, $9.6 million has already been disbursed to families as of October 31 for tuition payments to 328 private schools across the state.

If the predictions prove to be true that all $24 million in vouchers will be paid out this year, the state will have spent nearly double what it did during the last academic year on school vouchers, which was $13.1 million. Lawmakers made changes to the program earlier this year that could have the state spending $135 million annually on school vouchers by 2026.

Top recipients of vouchers so far this year include the following schools:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly
  • Google+
  • Buffer
  • LinkedIn

State lawmakers enacted the Opportunity Scholarships program, also known as school vouchers, back in 2013. The program gives low-income families up to $4,200 in taxpayer funds annually to spend at private schools.

CMS Opens the Diversity Door – and in comes Hope, Fear, and National Attention

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly
  • Google+
  • Buffer
  • LinkedIn

Garinger High School student Asnina Maingua holds up a sign before Wednesday’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board meeting, which included a vote on the first phase of student assignment changes.

Photo Credit: Diedra Laird, The Charlotte Observer. 

It may have been overshadowed by the election, but the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board’s vote this week to take steps toward diversifying schools has drawn attention around the nation and state.

It’s exciting and innovative, says Halley Potter, a fellow at The Century Foundation, a progressive think tank with offices in New York and Washington.

It’s wrong-headed and ideologically driven, says David Armor, a George Mason University public policy professor who specializes in student assignment research.

It’s a move in the right direction, says Keith Poston of the Raleigh-based Public School Forum of North Carolina.

For almost 50 years CMS has played a leading role in the nation’s struggle with race, class and education – first as a pioneer of desegregation in 1970, then with resegregation in the early part of this century, after courts overturned race-based assignment.

Charlotte’s riots and protests in September, while sparked by a police shooting, revived national scrutiny of CMS, where thousands of black, Hispanic and low-income students attend schools with very few white and middle-class peers.

Wednesday’s unanimous school board vote moved CMS into the growing ranks of districts trying to counteract such isolation by using socioeconomic status to diversify schools. CMS will use family income, single-parent status, English proficiency, home ownership and parents’ education levels to identify the challenges or advantages that often shape educational success, then use the 2017 magnet lottery to try to create a healthy mix.

Except for a few magnet programs that are moving, students won’t be forced to switch schools. District leaders have tried to strike a balance between creating opportunities for disadvantaged kids in low-performing schools while protecting the successful neighborhood schools that inspire fierce loyalty.

While the first step may be small, simply opening the diversity door has fueled hopes and fears. Superintendent Ann Clark, a 34-year veteran of CMS, called it “an exciting and significant moment in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools history.”

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:
Helms, A.”
CMS opens the diversity door – and in come hope, fear and national attention.” The Charlotte Observer. 11/11/16.

Virtual Charters Continue to be Plagued by High Dropout Rates, Low Student Performance

State education leaders may be reporting lackluster grades and soaring dropout rates in two new virtual charter schools in North Carolina, but customers, by and large, seem satisfied.

That’s the synopsis of a draft report on North Carolina’s virtual charter pilot, which includes two schools, N.C. Virtual Academy and N.C. Connections Academy, run by for-profit companies K-12 Inc. and Pearson, respectively.

“There’s nothing in there that was, unfortunately, surprising,” said Keith Poston, executive director of the Public School Forum of N.C., a nonpartisan policy and research group studying public education. “That’s what we’re seeing across the nation.”

The four-year pilot program, which has been dogged by criticism since its inception, requires reports from North Carolina’s charter school office to the N.C. General Assembly. State Board of Education members are expected to hear the draft report in the coming weeks.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Ball, B. “Virtual charters continue to be plagued by high dropout rates, low student performance.” NC Policy Watch. 11/17/16.

2015-16 NC School Report Cards Released

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly
  • Google+
  • Buffer
  • LinkedIn

The 2015-16 North Carolina School Report Cards featuring state-, district- and school-level information about public school student performance and attendance, class size, school safety, teacher quality and classroom technology are now available online.

“North Carolina has provided this comprehensive collection of public school data for 15 years to assist families seeking information about their local schools,” said State Superintendent June Atkinson. “I encourage parents, educators and the school community to use this data to inform conversations about what is working for their local schools and how they can support their schools to improve teaching and learning.”

This year’s report card includes school indicators provided in previous years’ reports such as school performance grades (A-F) for both traditional and charter schools and statewide end-of-grade and end-of-course test results for the five achievement levels. The latest report cards also include a couple of changes:

  • Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) are replaced with Participation Targets, as North Carolina is no longer required to report AMO proficiency targets for 2015-16 and 2016-17; and
  • Wireless Access Points per classroom has been added to help evaluate digital access for students.

Still to be added to the report cards are information about teacher quality and educator effectiveness as well as college enrollment and course completion.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from: 

NCDPI. “2015-16 NC School Report Cards Released.” 11/14/16.

Federal Grants Support School Improvement Efforts in North Carolina

Nineteen of North Carolina’s lowest performing “priority schools” will share in nearly $40.3 million in federal grant funds during the next five years aimed at improving student achievement through various school turnaround strategies.

The schools represent the fourth and final round of recipients of federal School Improvement Grants (SIG) awarded by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction through a competitive federal application process. The 19 schools, in eight districts, will benefit from SIG funds North Carolina has received for the last three years – allowing for five years of support instead of three years provided for previous cohorts of schools. North Carolina received approximately $13.9 million in 2014, $14.1 million in 2015, and recently awarded $12.2 million for 2016.

The grant competition was open to Title I or Title I-eligible schools that previously had not been awarded the grant and, based on the most recent data available, had been identified as “priority schools,” or the lowest performing 5 percent of schools in the state, determined by state end-of-grade or end-of-course tests.

Since 2010 in North Carolina, 61 schools in three previous rounds of School Improvement Grants – in 2010, 2011 and 2013 – have received a total of nearly $144 million in federal funding to pursue three-year efforts to boost student performance through aggressive turnaround approaches. Some schools received as much as $2 million for each of the three years of participation though others received less than $1 million total depending on need and student population.

The grant program is intended to achieve significant gains for schools struggling with low student performance by adopting one of several turnaround models prescribed by the federal government but chosen by the school. These have included converting to a charter, replacing the principal and at least half the staff, outright closure and a transformation approach that involves replacing the principal and taking a series of steps to increase teacher effectiveness, overhaul instructional strategies and increase parent involvement, among others.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from: 

NCDPI. “Federal Grants Support School Improvement Efforts and Helps 19 Schools Across North Carolina.” 11/15/16.

NC Highlight

NC Principal Wins International Recognition for Excellence in Leadership

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly
  • Google+
  • Buffer
  • LinkedIn
For as long as she can remember, Alicia Hash (pictured right) always had aspirations of becoming an educator.

Her interest in the profession only grew as a teenager, as she watched the powerful impact that her mother—a school teacher—had on children and parents in their small hometown of Walnut Grove, North Carolina.

“I saw her passion for children,” says Hash, who is now in her sixth year as principal of Cotswold Elementary School, a racially and economically diverse school located in the heart of Charlotte, North Carolina. “Growing up, I was surrounded by teachers.”

After several years of teaching students throughout the state of North Carolina, Hash, who earned her undergraduate degree from North Carolina A&T State University, decided to go the administrative route and earn a graduate degree in educational leadership by participating in the Leaders for Tomorrow Program, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) initiative held in partnership with Winthrop University.

Participants in the program complete a 42-semester-hour degree through a combination of face-to-face and web-based instruction and receive mentorship from CMS leaders.

Now, Hash is the one who is mentoring and inspiring teachers who are charged with the task of educating the school’s 820 students. Her leadership has won her international recognition, as she was awarded the Outstanding Urban Principal of the Year Award at the International Conference on Urban Education recently held in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

National News

New Survey Details How Teachers Use Their Own Money to Fill in Equity Gaps

An overwhelming majority of educators agree that equity in education should be a national priority—but in the meantime, teachers report dipping into their own pockets to help fill in the gaps.

Scholastic, the education publishing company, surveyed 4,721 public school educators—a pool comprised of 3,694 teachers (including 76 school librarians) and 1,027 principals—over the summer for its nationally representative report. Teachers and principals largely say that their students in both high- and low-poverty schools face barriers to learning that come from outside the school environment. To meet the personal needs of students, and to supplement classroom resources to enhance learning, teachers and principals feel obligated to use their own money.

These findings aren’t necessarily surprising or new—teachers have been tasked with funding their own classrooms for years—but the scope of the survey sheds some light on what educators are prioritizing.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly
  • Google+
  • Buffer
  • LinkedIn

On average in the past year, teachers who were surveyed spent $530 of their own money on classroom items. Teachers in high-poverty schools spent nearly 40 percent more—an average of $672.

As the chart shows, 70 percent of responding teachers said they purchased food and snacks for their children. Sixty-five percent purchased cleaning supplies. And 26 percent of teachers who were surveyed said they bought clothing for their students.

Principals also used their own money—an average of $683 over the past year—to pay for classroom or student supplies, and for principals in high-poverty schools, that figure increased to $1,014. Seventy-nine percent of principals purchased food and snacks for students.

Michigan Teacher Prep Initiative Gets STEM Teachers into High Needs Schools

Finding qualified educators to teach science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) courses has long been a challenge for school administrators across the country, so much so that some have argued that STEM teachers should be paid more than other educators so that they can be lured away from more lucrative careers in STEM-related professions. These issues are often compounded in high-needs districts that generally struggle to recruit educators to teach in classrooms that can be more challenging than more-affluent settings.

One initiative in Michigan, however, is finding success getting good STEM teachers in front of the students who need them the most.

The six-year-old Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowship program, funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, has been working with six Michigan universities to build “rigorous, highly selective, clinically based programs integrating disciplinary content and pedagogical instruction.”

The teaching fellows—hailing from Eastern Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, Wayne State University, and Western Michigan University— receive $30,000 fellowships to complete 12- to 15-month master’s degree programs and get three years of mentoring. The future teachers promise to spend three years teaching in high-needs Michigan schools. According to the report, fellows are significantly more likely than other Michigan educators to teach black students, low-income kids, students receiving special education services, and kids who are learning English as a second language.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.
Excerpt from:

Opportunities

Applications Open for 2017-18 Kenan Fellowships

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly
  • Google+
  • Buffer
  • LinkedIn
The Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership is accepting online applications for the 2017-18 fellowship year through January 16, 2017. These fellowships address the critical need to develop and empower high-quality teachers, who, in turn, make learning more authentic for students.

The fellowship begins with a summer internship in a higher education lab or industry setting and is supported by 80 hours of professional development that focuses on building leadership capacity and proven instructional strategies.

Fellowship projects have a unique set of criteria that in some cases is restricted by district, grade level and subject. Projects vary from scientific research to work experiences in the agriculture, energy and high-tech manufacturing industries.

Each Fellow is awarded at least a $5,000 stipend, and must develop and implement relevant educational materials and/or programs based on their internship experience. Fellows remain in the classroom while completing the year-long fellowship. Visit kenanfellows.org/2017-18-fellowships to see which fellowships are available to educators in your school district.

NC Science, Mathematics and Technology Education Center Seeks Award Nominations

Each year, the North Carolina Science, Mathematics and Technology Education Center awards individuals and organizations whose extraordinary contributions to science, mathematics and technology education in North Carolina help advance education in North Carolina.

Awards are presented in eight different categories. Educator and student award recipients receive $1,000 and are honored during the Celebration of Science, Mathematics and Technology event in the spring.

Visit the North Carolina Science, Mathematics and Technology Education Center website for more information. The deadline to nominate is December 1st.

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.

©2016 Public School Forum of North Carolina. All Rights Reserved.

Public School Forum of North Carolina

919-781-6833

Follow us at @theNCForum

www.ncforum.org

Donate to the Forum!

Share This