Expanding Educational Opportunity in North Carolina: A Preview of the Public School Forum’s Study Group XVI Action Plan and Recommendations

By Dudley Flood and Michael Priddy
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Next week, the Public School Forum will release the final report from its sixteenth biennial “study group.” The report, entitled, Expanding Educational Opportunity in North Carolina: Action Plan and Recommendations, is a call to action for all of those who care about public education in our great state.
Forum study groups are collective efforts by leaders from education, business, government, and academia to distill knowledge on major, timely education issues. Past Forum study groups have examined issues including teacher recruitment and retention, accountability and assessments, school finance, international competitiveness, and expanded learning and afterschool opportunities. This year’s effort has focused on educational opportunity.
Ten years ago, another Forum study group (Study Group XI) offered a response to the state supreme court’s seminal ruling in Leandro v. State, which defined the state’s constitutional obligation to provide every child with an “opportunity to obtain a sound basic education.” What we understood then, and have seen reinforced consistently since, is that delivering on the constitution’s promise will take the hard work and dedication of countless educators, and all of the ingenuity and resources that our state can muster in support of their work. 
What would it look like if we did this? What would it truly take to give every child in North Carolina the opportunity to receive a sound basic education?
To answer this question, participants in our study group looked at the major factors spotlighted in Leandro: teachers, school leaders, and resources. But we decided that to truly get a handle on the answer to the question, we needed to go deeper. 

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Our approach to deepen our inquiry began, as every discussion of education policy should, with students. We thought about the crises that students confront outside of school and carry with them into our classrooms. Some are deeply personal—tragic events or recurring traumas, such as the death of a loved one; an abusive parent; or hunger or homelessness. Others are societal, including racial inequities perpetuated by policies, practices, and other systemic norms. Still others relate to our education system itself. While some students are well-served by schools that achieve herculean results amidst the most challenging circumstances, too many languish year after year in struggling schools.
Considering these factors together—the personal, the cultural, and the systemic—led us to conceive of an archetypical disadvantaged student named “Antonio,” described in detail in the report.  Antonio is a composite of many students we have taught over the years, a student of color who has experienced multiple traumas and attends a low-performing school. As we delved into research and weighed the merits of various policy proposals and potential new programs, we constantly called ourselves back to Antonio, to ask if what we were evaluating would help give him the opportunity to receive a sound basic education.
The primary driver of our work in Study Group XVI has been a sense that if we design schools and education policies and programs for Antonio and others like him, all students will be well served. Creating trauma-sensitive schools and addressing the needs of those students most impacted by abuse or household dysfunction will make schools safer and more learner-centric environments, benefitting everyone. Increasing racial equity doesn’t just improve the educational experiences of minority students. It helps all students and educators work together more compassionately, and it moves everyone in the school and the community toward our strongest ideals of fairness and justice. And finally, turning around struggling schools holds promise not just for students in those schools, but also for students underserved in higher-performing schools. 
To focus our efforts, we divided the Study Group into three committees, each examining one of the three “levers” we have identified to expand educational opportunity.
  • Committee on Trauma & Learning. Research has documented the high prevalence of traumatic experiences in childhood, particularly among students living in poverty. This Committee studied the prevalence and impact of these experiences on student learning, and learned from state and national experts about strategies for addressing these impacts within educational settings. 
  • Committee on Racial Equity. With North Carolina’s increasingly diverse student population, intentionally and systemically promoting racial equity will be essential if the state hopes to dismantle historical racial and structural inequities to better serve its most vulnerable students. This Committee subdivided its work into seven domains: resegregation; discipline disparities; the opportunity gap; overrepresentation of students of color in special education; access to rigorous courses and programs; diversity in teaching; and culturally responsive pedagogy.
  • Committee on Supporting Low-Performing Schools. The issues discussed above affect students in all schools, but concentrated disadvantage has led to the categorization of certain schools as “low-performing.” The work of this Committee focused on interventions that show particular promise to support the rapid educational improvement of high numbers of students by targeting supports to these schools.
Each committee met several times over a five-month period, from December 2015 through April 2016, reviewing the literature on their topic and meeting with subject-matter experts and practitioners to better understand the current state of the field on the topic, and to generate practical, actionable recommendations. In the coming week, articles by the committee co-chairs will spotlight the work of each committee, beginning with the Committee on Trauma & Learning on Monday, followed by the Committee on Racial Equity on Tuesday, and the Committee on Supporting Low-Performing Schools on Wednesday. 
After these forays into each committee’s work, the Forum will release the Study Group’s final report on Thursday, October 20, bringing together the three committees’ work in an overall “Action Plan and Recommendations” for expanding educational opportunity in the state. We invite you to join us in exploring this topic over the next week, and in working to make the recommendations a reality in the months ahead. 
Only through a true collective effort by all of those who care about ensuring equitable access to educational opportunity can we give every North Carolina child the opportunity to receive a sound basic education.
Reprinted from:
This article also appears as the first in a series of five articles that will culminate in the release of the Study Group’s Action Plan and Recommendations on Thursday, October 20. The authors served as the study group’s co-chairs, and both are members of the Forum’s Board of Directors, which Dr. Priddy chairs.

In This Issue

Expanding Educational Opportunity in North Carolina: A Preview of the Public School Forum’s Study Group XVI Action Plan and Recommendations

This Weekend in Education Matters: School Resources

State Superintendent Candidates Debate on School Choice, Teacher Support, and Integration

Schools Work to Clean Up, Reopen After Matthew

Hope Charter Leadership Academy in Raleigh in Danger of Being Shut Down by State

Building the Foundation for Universal Pre-K

October 20th: Lights on Afterschool

Nine Ohio Cybers Could Be Forced to Repay More Than $80 Million After Attendance Audits

Kids to America: More Black and Latino Teachers, Please

Test Scores Get Less Emphasis in Final Federal Teacher Preparation Rules

Hope Street Group North Carolina Teacher Voice Network Survey

Wake County Public Schools Research Partnership Symposium

Journal for Interdisciplinary Teacher Leadership

Public School Forum Programs

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Nominate an Outstanding Education Leader!

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The Public School Forum is seeking nominations for education leaders to be profiled on our new weekly TV show, Education Matters, on WRAL-TV.
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.

This Weekend in Education Matters: School Resources

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The Public School Forum’s weekly television program, Education Matters, premiered on Sunday, October 2nd on WRAL-TV.  The first episode focused on NC’s teacher pipeline, examining the declining enrollment in teacher preparation programs and increase in teacher turnover.
The next episode on Sunday October 16th will focus on school resources. Across our state, public schools are being asked to do more with less. Eight years after a crippling recession forced significant cuts in state spending, including in public education, many key funding areas still remain below pre-recession levels. This week’s guests include two teachers who have felt the impact in their own pocket:
  • Jasmine Lauer, Teacher, Sanderson High School, Wake County
  • Rahnesia Best, Olive Chapel Elementary, Wake County
  • Kassandra Watson, Wake County PTA
  • Ashley Perkinson, NCPTA

This episode was originally scheduled to air on October 9th but was rescheduled due to continuous coverage on WRAL-TV of Hurricane Matthew.

Education Matters airs on Sundays at 11:30 AM on WRAL-TV through mid-November. The program will move to its permanent time slot, Saturdays at 7:30 PM, beginning November 26, 2016. Education Matters is viewable online at https://www.ncforum.org/education-matters/ and http://www.wral.com/ (search for Education Matters). 
On social media, you can engage with Education Matters on Twitter by following @NCEdmatters and the Public School Forum @theNCForum. We are using the hashtag #NCEDmatters.
On Facebook, you can like the Public School Forum page and the Education Matters show page to get info about the show and other Forum news and education news of interest on your timeline.

State News

State Superintendent Candidates Debate on School Choice, Teacher Support, and Integration

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Winston-Salem welcomed state superintendent candidates June Atkinson and Mark Johnson September 29 for a debate on their visions for the future of North Carolina education and their solutions to issues like continually low-performing schools, high teacher turnover, and resegregation of the state’s schools.
A question on the candidates’ takes on the Common Core curriculum started the debate, and each had very different responses. Johnson, who is challenging Atkinson’s three-term hold on the office, said he does not support Common Core, and that he often hears complaints from parents as a Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Board of Education member. He said the standards weren’t written or reviewed by educators. Johnson threw the first of many criticisms at Atkinson, saying she promised the state was reviewing the standards for early grades.
“We’ve had these standards for over four years now,” Johnson said. “Why is it taking so long when there are so many students and teachers who are struggling with our standards for the future?”
Atkinson said the standards, under state policy, will be reviewed once every five years. There also needs to be adequate time for professional development, she said, so that teachers can properly adjust to the curriculum changes. Atkinson said the standards were reviewed by teachers of all grades before they were adopted by the State Board of Education.
“We have thousands and thousands of pieces of paper showing feedback,” Atkinson said.
The next question asked Atkinson and Johnson how to get high-quality teachers in the lowest-performing schools. The candidates agreed that higher salary was part of the equation.
Atkinson said teachers should be offered at least $10,000 more to teach at low-preforming schools, and that schools need appropriate resources — like professional development and a great principal to support teachers.
Johnson brought up Cook Elementary, a federal restart school in Winston-Salem, as an example of the kind of testing and curriculum flexibility that’s needed to turn around low-performing schools. These schools are given similar flexibility as charter schools and are one option for continually low-performing schools. Johnson said meaningful professional development and thinking outside of the box is also necessary.

Schools Work to Clean Up, Reopen After Matthew

Hundreds of public and private schools in North Carolina were closed Monday, and some have been be closed multiple days, while communities struggle to recover from the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.
Wake County schools were closed Monday as power crews continue to work around the clock to get electricity restored to homes and classrooms. Traditional-calendar students will make up for the lost day on Oct. 31, and year-round students will make up for it on Saturday.
All Wake County Schools, with the exception of Vernon Malone College and Career Academy, will reopen Tuesday. All Wake Technical Community College evening classes held at Vernon Malone College and Career Academy will also be canceled.
East Carolina University and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke were both be closed all week – UNC-Pembroke was already scheduled to be on fall break Thursday and Friday – because of extensive flooding in Pitt and Robeson counties, respectively.
To continue reading the complete article, click here.
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Hope Charter Leadership Academy in Raleigh in Danger of Being Shut Down by State

A high-poverty Raleigh charter school is in danger of being ordered to shut down by the state at the end of the school year due to its low test scores and lack of academic growth among its students.
The N.C. Charter Schools Advisory Board voted Thursday to require the leadership of Hope Charter Leadership Academy to show up at the group’s November meeting with a comprehensive plan to improve academic performance. The vote came after advisory board members decided to hold off on recommending that the State Board of Education take away Hope’s charter at the end of the school year.
Last school year, Hope’s passing rate on state exams was 26.5 percent, the school didn’t meet growth and it received a “F” school performance grade. Fifth-grade state exam passing rates of 10.5 percent in reading and 5.3 percent in math were called unacceptable.
“These scores are horrible,” said advisory board member Steven Walker as he repeatedly banged his hand on the table. “You’re talking about one kid in 5th-grade passing math, one kid.”
Charter schools are taxpayer funded public schools that are exempt from some of the regulations that traditional public schools must follow. There are 167 charter schools open in North Carolina this school year.
Hope is an almost all-minority school serving 123 students at a location near downtown Raleigh. More than 99 percent of Hope’s students qualify as economically disadvantaged.
The tone on Thursday was less upbeat than in December, when Hope showed up at the advisory board seeking a renewal recommendation on its charter. Despite low test scores, advisory board members at the December meeting praised the direction the school seemed to be going.
With Hope’s charter set to expire after June 2016, the State Board accepted the advisory board’s recommendation to give a three-year renewal. But the renewal came with a stipulation that Hope had to meet annual growth targets on state exams.
When Hope fell short of meeting growth on the 2015-16 exams, it found itself back before the advisory board on Thursday.
To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Building the Foundation for Universal Pre-K

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Community leaders gather at the Universal Pre-K forum in Winston-Salem. 

Photo credit: Todd Brantley, Education NC

Earlier this month, in the culmination of more than two years of planning and research, the Universal Pre-K Initiative unveiled a multi-year plan for implementing a system of universal Pre-K in Forsyth County.
“Forsyth County has a unique opportunity to move toward expanding and increasing our Pre-K system,” said Bob Feikema to the crowd of more than 60 community leaders who had gathered at the Winston-Salem offices of Goodwill.
Feikema, the president & CEO of Family Services and a member of the Universal Pre-K Initiative Steering Committee, lead the group through a series of presentations by fellow committee members and facilitated breakout discussion on each of the three main target areas identified by the group’s report: advocacy, funding, and quality standards.
And though there was a celebratory feel to the event, a recognition of the time and effort that went into the work to get the group to this point in time, there was also a sense of caution that the most difficult work was still ahead.
“There’s a long way to go,” Feikema said later in the event. “And each step we take we need to be mindful of what is involved in establishing an effective, high-quality Pre-K system.”
“This gives us a good foundation for moving forward,” Feikema continued. “But moving forward will require a community-wide planning process that includes all the parties committed to the creation of a quality universal Pre-K system. But how do we get there?”
To continue reading the complete article, click here.
Excerpt from:

NC CAP News

October 20th: Lights on Afterschool

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Lights On Afterschool, a project of The Afterschool Alliance, will be celebrated across the nation on October 20th.
Afterschool programs celebrating Lights On can register their event here as an official Lights on Afterschool event.
Launched in October 2000, Lights On Afterschool is the only nationwide event celebrating afterschool programs and their role in keeping kids safe, inspiring them to learn and helping working families. The effort has become a hallmark of the afterschool movement and annually sees more than 1 million Americans celebrate at more than 8,000 events nationwide.

National News

Nine Ohio Cybers Could Be Forced to Repay More Than $80 Million After Attendance Audits

The Ohio education department could seek repayment of more than $80 million from nine full-time online charter schools it believes inflated student attendance records, reports the Columbus Dispatch.
Among the cyber charters under scrutiny: Ohio’s largest cyber, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, which state officials contend was paid for 9,000 students who did not complete enough work to be considered full-time, as well as two cybers that state officials said did not have any full-time students.
ECOT officials have called the audit a “sham” and argued the state changed its attendance-reporting rules midstream, then tried to apply them to schools retroactively. The school had been seeking a court order blocking the state from using log-in records as a means of verifying student attendance. An Ohio judge denied that request late last month.
Leaders from several of the audited Ohio cybers told the Dispatch they believe the state’s approach is “unreasonable.”

Kids to America: More Black and Latino Teachers, Please

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Kids these days want more diverse teachers, a new study shows.
Middle and high school students of all races and ethnicities preferred teachers of color over white ones, according to a recent New York University study — significant considering an “overwhelmingly White teacher force is working with a majority non-White student population,” author Hua-Yu Sebastian Cherng wrote.
The report, newly published in Educational Researcher and based on data from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Measure of Effective Teaching study, analyzed 2009 to 2010 data on more than 50,000 sixth to ninth graders and 1,680 teachers.
Kids in the dataset assessed their perceptions of teachers on the so-called “7Cs” — Challenge, Classroom Management, Care, Confer, Captivate, Clarify and Consolidate — which measure factors such as understanding pupils’ feelings, treating them with respect and engaging them in course material.
“This study provides empirical evidence that at least from the student perspective, there is something really different going on,” Cherng, an assistant professor of international education at NYU, told the Daily News.
To continue reading the complete article, click here.
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Test Scores Get Less Emphasis in Final Federal Teacher Preparation Rules

The U.S. Department of Education released its long-awaited final rules on teacher preparation this week. The rules, first proposed in 2014, aim to hold teacher-training programs accountable for the performance of their graduates, and they make it mandatory for states to provide aspiring teachers a way of pre-evaluating programs.
Under the rules, states will be required each year to rate all of its traditional, alternative and distance prep programs as either effective, at-risk, or as low-performing. They will have to provide additional support to programs rated as low-performing.
The annual ratings are to be based on several metrics, such as the number of graduates who get jobs in high-needs schools, how long these graduates stay in the teaching profession, and how effective they are as teachers, judging from classroom observations as well as their students’ academic performance.
In a major change from the proposed rules—which were subject to heavy criticism from the field—student learning will not have to be based on test scores or the proxy of teacher evaluations based on student performance; rather, states will have the flexibility to use other measures deemed “relevant to student outcomes” and determine how various components of their systems are weighed.
States will also need to consider feedback from graduates and employers on how effective they perceive the program’s training to be. An effective program, according to the rules, is one that gives plenty of on-the-job training and meets “rigorous exit requirements.”
To continue reading the complete article, click here.
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Opportunities

Last Day to Apply to the Beginning Teacher Leadership Network!!

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The Public School Forum’s Beginning Teacher Leadership Network is accepting applications for the 2016-17 school year for Mecklenburg, Wake, and Union counties. Application links are available online at https://www.ncforum.org/beginning-teacher-leadership-network/.

The Beginning Teacher Leadership Network (BTLN) offers early-career teachers (1-3 years) the chance to continue their development as classroom instructors while learning how to advocate for the educational profession. Participants in BTLN meet regularly to improve their classroom practice, network with one another, and learn about state and local education policy. It offers beginning teachers the chance to grow in their pedagogical practice, as well as bolster their impact beyond the classroom. BTLN implements specific interventions to retain beginning teachers by fostering their leadership ability and leveraging the skills of veteran teachers. It is completely voluntary and intended as a supplement to the required professional development delivered by the local education agency. It takes a three-pronged approach to teacher-leadership by focusing on the areas of education policy and advocacy, cross-curricular collaboration, and professional development.

More questions? Check out THIS video about the BTLN or contact Forum Program Director James Ford at jford@ncforum.org.

Fayetteville, Tarboro ESSA Public Comment Sessions Canceled; Sessions Will Be Rescheduled

The public comment sessions scheduled for Fayetteville and Tarboro to receive feedback from educators, parents, students and other stakeholders on the state’s K-12 Education Plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) have been canceled due to the impact of Hurricane Matthew in these communities.
The Fayetteville ESSA public comment session was scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 18, at Long Hill Elementary School. The Tarboro ESSA public comment session was scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 19, at Tarboro High School.
The sessions will be rescheduled with advance notice provided. The remaining public comment sessions will take place as scheduled:
  • Oct. 24, Waynesville: Tuscola High School, Auditorium, 564 Tuscola School Road, Waynesville.
  • Oct. 25, Burlington: Career and Technical Education Center, 2550 Buckingham Road, Burlington.
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The sessions will be held from 5-7 p.m. Anyone may attend a session in any region. Audience members who want to speak (up to 3 minutes) should sign in by 5:15 p.m. at each session and are invited (but not required) to bring a copy of their remarks to submit into the record of the event. A recording and notes from each session also will be taken.
In addition, the public is invited to submit comments to NCDPI through Let’s Talk. Simply click on the Let’s Talk link on the NCDPI website and select the ESSA dialog topic when prompted. 

Hope Street Group North Carolina Teacher Voice Network Survey

Teachers are asked to take ten minutes to complete the Hope Street Group North Carolina Teacher Voice Network survey before October 18th. The survey can be accessed hereTopics relate to the North Carolina Working Conditions Survey and the 2016-2017 State Board of Education Strategic Plan. Results will be shared in February 2017, along with helpful recommendations based on your input that can be used at the school, district, or state level.  You can see the recommendations from previous surveys here and here

Wake County Public Schools Research Partnership Symposium

The Wake County Public School System will be hosting a day-long (9:00-4:00) symposium on November 1st to highlight WCPSS’s research partnerships with various universities across the Triangle and beyond. The symposium will be held at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation.
The morning agenda will include a plenary session about partnership work broadly (with guests from Durham and Guilford Public Schools), as well as a discussion among district and university grants directors about navigating the grantmaking process. 
The afternoon agenda will include short sessions in which district staff and their university partners will highlight collaborations and share results. Such collaborations include the following, among other projects: 
  • An examination of the relationship between students’ civic engagement and achievement (partnership with Duke University)
  • The impact of a contemporary career academy on high school graduation and beyond (partnership with UNC Chapel Hill)
  • A look at “summer melt,” whereby students intend to enroll in college but fall off course during the summer (partnership with NC State)
Coffee and snacks will be available before we kick off at 9:00. Lunch is included. 
Please RSVP here.

Journal for Interdisciplinary Teacher Leadership

The Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership is accepting articles and literary reviews to be featured in the second issue of the Journal for Interdisciplinary Teacher Leadership (JoITL). The peer-reviewed publication features original work on K–12 educational topics from research to pedagogy to policy, and more.
Special consideration will be given to works that address:
  • STEM education and science literacy
  • Project and inquiry based learning
  • Teacher leadership and research experiences for educators
  • Data literacy and digital learning
Submissions will be accepted through Monday, Oct. 31, 2016.
For submission guidelines, visit kenanfellows.org/journals. Please send questions to the managing editor, Amneris Solano, at asolano@ncsu.edu.

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.

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