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The Friday Report

September 15, 2017

Forum News

This Week on Education Matters: Class Size Mandate

In Wilmington, two teachers and two classes of elementary students share a single classroom. In Goldsboro, there are big increases in class sizes for 4th and 5th grades. In Raleigh, teachers educate students with special needs in tiny storage closets while art and music teachers push their supplies in carts from room to room. In Winston-Salem, upper grade classes are without enough desks for students and the room is completely packed. Why is this happening? 

On this week’s Education Matters, find out how the General Assembly’s K-3 class size mandate is creating chaos in schools across the state, which may get worse next year without legislative action.

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Guests Include:

  • Jazzmone Sutton, Music Teacher, Wake County, President-Elect, NC Music Educators Association (pictured above, right)
  • Gussie Marshallsea, Visual Arts Teacher, Wake County (pictured above, left)
  • Aaron Marcin, Principal, Lead Mine Elementary, Wake County (pictured below)
  • Kathy Hartenstine, Wake County School Board, Retired Principal (pictured below)

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When and Where to Watch Education Matters

Saturdays at 7:30 PM, WRAL-TV (Raleigh/Durham/Fayetteville)

Sundays at 8:00 AM, FOX 50

(Raleigh/Durham/Fayetteville)

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

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

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

State News

Wake County Families Could Face School Transfers Because of the New Class Size Rules

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Students Jack O’Grady, left, Ryder Lawson, center, and Anwita Ambalavanan share iPads in Sarah Lloyd’s first grade class at Mills Park Elementary in Cary NC on Nov. 22, 2016. Mills Park may go to art and music on a cart, have more than 29 students in fourth- and fifth-grade classes and reassign some students to other schools to meet smaller state K-3 class sizes in 2018. Photo Credit: Chris Seward, The News & Observer.

More Wake County families could have to change schools next year so the district can meet a new state mandate to lower class sizes in elementary school.

Wake County school board members gave tentative approval Monday to cut back on the number of students who’d be eligible to “grandfather” at their current school and not be moved to a different school for the 2018-19 school year. The change, pending final board approval, would allow Wake to more quickly move students to get schools in line with the new class-size limitations.

“(Grandfathering) was a nod to families, but it made it difficult for administration to administer the policy,” said school board member Keith Sutton, chairman of the student achievement committee. “Now when you add the two burdens of growth and the class-size piece, it’s a way for us to try to get back some control as we wrap our arms around the situation and manage things a little bit better.”

The changes will be reflected in the first draft of the 2018-19 student assignment plan that will be presented next week.

Wake is in a bind because state lawmakers lowered school district class sizes for kindergarten through third grade in 2018 to an average of roughly 17 students, compared with 21 children this past school year. Wake will have to create space for the equivalent of 559 classrooms and 9,500 students.

Principals at the majority of Wake’s 113 elementary schools say they can meet the smaller class sizes by taking steps next year such as converting art and music spaces to regular classrooms and increasing class sizes for older children. But principals at 27 elementary schools say they need outside help to make it work, which could include removing some of their students.

Options for making it work at those 27 schools include removing some of the students who transferred in from other schools and putting in place enrollment caps that would keep newly arriving families from attending.

Another option is to reassign some students to schools that have more space. But in recent years, Wake has put in “stay where you start” rules that have given more families the ability to stay at their current school and not be moved as long as they provide their own transportation.​

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

To read more on the class size issues in Wake County, please see the following article:

New class limits likely to make it harder to get into some Wake elementary schools.

Excerpt from:

Hui, K. “Wake County families could face school transfers because of new class-size rules.” The News & Observer. 9/11/17.

In This Issue

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 here.

Judges Delay Giving NC Superintendent Control Over the Education Department

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State Superintendent Mark Johnson and State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey pose for a picture at the State Board meeting in August. Photo Credit: T. Keung Hui, The News & Observer.

State Superintendent Mark Johnson will have to wait at least a month before gaining more control over the running of North Carolina’s public schools, a three-judge panel ruled Thursday.

The judges agreed to continue delaying by 30 days its July ruling that upheld a state law that shifts more control over public education operations to Johnson. In requesting the stay, the State Board of Education had argued that letting the ruling go into effect now “will generate enormous disruption for our State’s public schools” – a charge denied by Johnson.

In a court filing, the board said the new law “will move the entire $10 billion public school system under the control of a single individual for the first time in North Carolina history.” The board also said the law empowered Johnson “to take drastic action,” such as unilaterally firing more than 1,000 employees at the state Department of Public Instruction.

In an affidavit, Johnson said it would be false to say the law gives him sole control of the public school system. He also called the board’s statement that he could fire more than 1,000 people a “falsehood” and a “hysterical claim.”

In December, state lawmakers passed a law that shifts some of the powers of the state board to Johnson, including control of high-level hiring and spending at DPI. In its lawsuit, the board said the legislature was trying to take away responsibilities conferred by the state constitution.

In its July ruling, the panel of Superior Court judges said the board had failed to prove that any part of the law was unconstitutional. The ruling said the law does not transfer power to Johnson, but lets him manage daily operations with board oversight. The law puts limits on the superintendent’s powers, and maintains the board as the ultimate authority to supervise and administer the public school system, the ruling said.

​To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Hui, K. and Bonner, L. “Judges delay giving NC superintendent control over the education department.” The News & Observer. 9/14/17.

State Board to Ask Legislature for Technical Corrections to Principal Pay Boost

By adopting a plan that ties salaries to school size and student growth as measured by the state’s accountability system, the General Assembly moved away from a highly convoluted pay system. But after hearing about potentially serious concerns about the transition, the State Board of Education voted to direct Superintendent Mark Johnson and DPI staff to provide needed information to the General Assembly to correct unintended consequences associated with the newly adopted rules for setting pay and awarding bonuses for school administrators.

The General Assembly earlier this year addressed concerns about pay for North Carolina principals, whose salaries were among the lowest in the nation last year, appropriating an additional $35.4 million increase to principal and assistant principal compensation in 2017-18 and a cumulative, two-year increase of $40.6 million by 2018-2019.

According to the N.C. Association of School Administrators (NCASA), the new plan and increased funding will move average principal pay from just under $64,000 per year to more than $71,000 per year, not including the bonus pay. In a memo to NCASA members after the budget was approved, the group acknowledged that refinements would still be needed to the new pay structure.

Although all principals are held harmless this year from a pay decrease, an extensive presentation from School Business Director Alexis Schauss detailed examples of some principals who could face serious pay cuts beginning next year if corrections aren’t made.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

“September 2017 NC Public School Partners’ Newsletter.” NC Public School Partners. 9/12/17.

ESSA Update

At its September meeting, the State Board of Education approved North Carolina’s final plan for implementing the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). You can read the plan by clicking here.

The plan, which upon its approval will be in effect beginning with the 2017-18 school year, is due to the federal government no later than September 18, 2017. The federal government has 120 days to review the state’s plan and either approve it, reject it or request changes. States have 15 days to then make any requested changes.

State Apologizes for Mistakenly Claiming Six NC Colleges Failed to Pass Enough Education Students

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Photo Credit: WRAL.

Officials with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction apologized Monday for mistakenly reporting that six colleges failed to pass enough students in their teacher education programs last school year.

The six colleges – East Carolina University, Gardner-Webb University, UNC-Wilmington, UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Greensboro and Wingate University – were mistakenly included on a list of 19 colleges with low pass rates. The list was presented to the State Board of Education last Wednesday and reported by WRAL News.

After WRAL’s report, three colleges reached out to say that they passed at least 70 percent of their students and should not have been included on the list. Education programs must maintain a 70 percent passage rate for graduating students taking the Praxis II exams, which are tied to their teaching license.

On Monday, the state education department sent individual letters to the six colleges.

“After a review of the data … NCDPI has determined that your institution should not have been identified as failing to meet the standard in the 2015-16 reporting year. We deeply regret the misstatement and wish to convey our sincere apology,” according to a copy of one of the letters DPI provided to WRAL News.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:
“State apologizes for mistakenly claiming six NC colleges failed to pass enough education students.” WRAL. 9/11/17.

Edgecombe, Anticipating Storm, Reflects Inward

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Researcher Seth Saeugling shares insights on trauma to Edgecombe County community members.

Photo Credit: Liz Bell, EducationNC.

As Edgecombe County’s school system faces another hurricane season, its leaders are looking for ways to better understand the students and families they serve. Anxieties were beginning to lessen last Friday as projections for Hurricane Irma headed west — away from the community still recovering from last year’s Hurricane Matthew devastation.

Edgecombe County Public Schools (ECPS) spokeswoman Susan Hoke said the district is prepared for potential damage. County officials picked two locations — a private school in Tarboro and a Baptist church in Pinetops — to open as shelters for displaced residents if necessary. “It doesn’t look like it’s going to be nearly as bad as we thought,” Hoke said. “Of course, we didn’t think that with Matthew either.”

But last Thursday, when Irma’s path was less clear, school system leaders met to address greater issues embedded in the community. Former teachers in eastern North Carolina, Seth Saeugling and Vichi Jagannathan have researched the effects of trauma on families for months, focusing on east Tarboro. Their research is funded by an anonymous private donor and is housed within the Public School Forum of North Carolina. They presented their insights from interviews and meetings to representatives from several sectors: health, law enforcement, church, social services, and education.

“I believe it’s possible to break the cycle of trauma,” Saeugling said. “And that belief isn’t like pie in the sky. That’s rooted in science. That’s rooted in belief in people and community.”

Adverse childhood experiences, commonly referred to as ACEs, often show up in the form of abuse, neglect, or household dysfunction. Saeugling and Jagannathan emphasized the importance of the first three years of humans’ brain development. Eighty percent of the neural connections a brain makes in a lifetime, according to their presentation, occur in those three years. Traumatic events force young people deal with toxic stress, which is intense, prolonged, and prevents healthy brain development.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:
Bell, L. “Edgecombe, anticipating storm, reflects inward.” EducationNC. 9/10/17.

Applications for Funding from the Need-Based Public Schools Capital Fund Now Available 

North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson announced applications for funding through the new Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund are now available. The $30 million fund was provided by the General Assembly in this year’s budget to assist school districts in lower-wealth counties with their critical public school building capital needs. Tier 1 counties have priority for the funding.

“This new fund will help smaller school districts replace old buildings that are costly to maintain and no longer serve the districts’ needs with new, efficient and right-sized buildings that meet their 21st century needs,” Johnson said.

The funds are capped at $15 million per project in Tier 1 counties and $10 million per project in Tier 2 counties, and the law requires a local match of $1 for every $3 in grant funds. The fund is restricted to new capital projects, and cannot be used for real property acquisition or for operational lease agreements, unless the lease agreement was executed on or before June 30, 2017. Also, the county cannot have received more than $8.75 million from the Public School Building Capital Fund from fiscal years 2012-13 to 2016-17.

County applications, available at www.schoolclearinghouse.org, are due to the Department of Public Instruction by Oct. 11, and awards will be announced by Nov. 1. The tight timeline is intended to address these critical needs as soon as possible through the fund. In fiscal year 2018-19 and subsequent years, guidance will be issued by July 31, 2018 with an application deadline of Aug. 31, 2018 and award announcements by Sept. 30, 2018.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

“Applications for Funding from the Need-Based Public Schools Capital Fund Now Available.” The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. 9/13/17.

Years of Work, Millions of Dollars Bring Small Yields at Most Challenged CMS Schools

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Teacher Stephanie Stanic leads a fifth-grade class at Nations Ford Elementary, a Beacon Initiative school that has seen steady gains across all subjects. It went from a D to a C this year. Photo Credit: Davie Hinshaw, The Charlotte Observer.

As a new superintendent and Charlotte’s philanthropic community contemplate the future of public education, the latest state ratings bring a sobering reminder of how elusive school turnaround can be.

Six years ago corporate and foundation donors pledged some $50 million toward boosting achievement at nine schools in the West Charlotte High feeder zone, in a groundbreaking effort called Project LIFT. Leaders of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools later targeted 14 more high-poverty, low-performing schools as part of its Beacon Initiative.

The schools got extra money to recruit and train the best principals and teachers. The district and its donors have equipped kids with digital technology, hired extra counselors to help them cope with troubled lives and provided summer and after-school programs to keep them learning after bells ring.

The latest round of school grades and test-score data show some gains, including at Nations Ford Elementary School, where Superintendent Clayton Wilcox convened news media Thursday to announce the 2017 letter grades and testing results. He called Nations Ford, which is part of the Beacon program, “one of the shining examples of what CMS can do.”

But just as many of the LIFT and Beacon schools saw setbacks, and none has yet come close to the ultimate goal: Showing that children of poverty can be just as successful as counterparts in the district’s most successful suburban and magnet schools.

Of the 23 schools that are part of Project LIFT or Beacon, only one topped a 50 percent pass rate on state exams last year. And that one, Project LIFT’s Statesville Road Elementary, regressed slightly from the previous year.

Four of the schools rated an F, and Bruns slipped backward to become the lowest-scoring school in CMS. Bruns and Byers School, both part of Project LIFT, are among the state’s lowest performers, on a list of 48 statewide being scrutinized for possible takeover by a charter school operator.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:
Helms, A. “Years of work, millions of dollars bring small yields at most challenged CMS schools.” The Charlotte Observer. 9/9/17.

National News

Teacher Pay Lags Furthest Behind Other Professionals in U.S., Study Finds

Young college graduates have a lot less incentive to become K-12 teachers in the United States than in other countries, according to the latest data from the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD). While American educators out-earn teachers in other countries, they trail those with similar education levels in other professions more than teachers in any other OECD country.

That was part of the OECD’s annual “Education at a Glance” report—a nearly 500-page compendium of educational indicators across more than two dozen industrialized countries, which was released this morning.

Teachers start with a higher average salary in the United States, about $42,500 at the elementary level, compared to under $31,000 for new teachers on average in the OECD. They also have, on average, faster pay increases after 15 years in the classroom than their international counterparts, with salary bumps of more than $18,000 for U.S. teachers versus roughly $12,000 for the OECD average.

But U.S. teachers make less than 60 cents on every dollar made by others with their education level, the biggest gap of any OECD country. And at every grade level, U.S. teachers work longer hours than their international counterparts. In America, for example, a 7th grade teacher puts in 1,366 hours at school each year, including more than 980 hours of teaching—which is nearly 270 more hours of teaching than the international average.

Children’s Trauma Lasts Long After Disasters, Studies Show

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Furniture is piled up outside Houston’s Thompson Intermediate School. Students are moving to another campus while the Pasadena, Texas district fixes the flooded school. Photo Credit: Erich Schlegel, Education Week.

From Hurricane Katrina to the Joplin, Mo., tornado, the past dozen years have given education researchers unwelcome opportunities to study schools in the wake of disaster.

Lessons learned from studying those disasters may help educators pick up the pieces in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. Above all, this body of research finds that the full effects of disasters on children are far deeper and longer-lasting than expected.

While floodwaters may recede in a matter of days or weeks, students in communities hit by natural disaster often face disruptions for months or years, including missed school, living in a shelter or a home under repair, and experiencing family financial and emotional stress.

“It is not only the event itself, but what comes after the event that causes problems for children,” said David Schonfeld, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician and the director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement at the University of Southern California.

“There’s a tendency to say, ‘Look, the kids are better’—meaning they aren’t crying anymore and they can sit in a classroom and have a conversation—and they say, ‘Well, kids like structure, let’s get them back to normal.’ But they still may not be functioning at full level,” Schonfeld said.

One large-scale analysis of studies of children after natural and manmade disasters found they often reported symptoms of trauma—such as intrusive memories and feelings of detachment—that adults did not observe. “PTS [post-traumatic stress] may manifest largely without parents’ awareness,” found the study by researchers at Boston and Temple universities. “Observable symptoms of PTS may occur only in situations outside of the home, e.g., at school.”

After Hurricane Katrina, a group of researchers led by Joy Osofsky of the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center also found that, “children’s worries about school were significantly associated with long-term distress.” Trauma not only sometimes triggered test anxiety, but interventions that addressed test anxiety improved students’ post-traumatic-stress symptoms, too.

Osofsky tracked children in the hard-hit St. Bernard Parish schools for three years. After that time, while most students showed lower levels of depression and post-traumatic stress, nearly 28 percent still had made little or no recovery from the trauma and required ongoing mental-health services. The children who were ages 9 to 11 were significantly more likely to be anxious, depressed, or show signs of PTSD than were the older students.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:
Sparks, S. “Children’s Trauma Lasts Long After Disasters, Studies Show.” Education Week. 9/8/17.

 IBM Releases K-5 Free Online Tool for Math Teachers

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The IBM Foundation has teamed up with education leaders, providers of high quality teaching content, and math teachers to develop a free online tool called Teacher Advisor With Watson. The new tool uses IBM’s Watson technology that has been trained by math experts to provide teachers with targeted recommendations for math concepts, skills and techniques. With more than 1,000 high quality lesson plans, proven teaching strategies, and videos, the tool is designed to help teachers make more informed decisions about the best approaches for teaching their students. More than 1,000 teachers across dozens of states have piloted it. 

As of September 13th, Teacher Advisor 1.0 is available for free to all elementary math teachers in the United States. The development team is working hard to ensure that by then, Teacher Advisor will cover math resources from kindergarten through fifth grade.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Staff. “IBM releases K-5 free online tool for math teachers.” Education NC. 9/13/17.

Survey: Millennials Hold Complex Views on Education 

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Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Millennials have surprising views on education, new data suggests, with no fixed ideology and, in many cases, attitudes about higher education that defy the popular idea that “college is for everyone.”

Asked about the best ways to improve K-12 education, they propose a fairly traditional set of policy solutions:

  • Increase school funding.
  • Improve teacher training.
  • Increase teacher pay.

But most millennials also say U.S. schools are not being held to account for the performance of students of color. And they support a handful of ideas that would make their former teachers blanch, including taxpayer-supported tuition vouchers.

“At the very basic level, I think it reveals complexity,” said Vladimir Medenica, a researcher with GenForward, a nationally representative bimonthly survey of millennials — loosely defined as adults aged 18-34 — conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago. The new findings are being released Tuesday.

Dig down a bit and you’ll find that nearly two-thirds of African-Americans surveyed — 65% — support charter schools, as do 61% of Asian Americans and 58% of Latinos. Support was weakest among white respondents, but it still surpassed a majority at 55%.

Publicly funded yet often privately managed, charter schools have grown in popularity even as their recruitment and retention practices have divided educators and lawmakers. About 3.1 million students attend charter schools, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from: 

Toppo, G. “Survey: Millennials hold complex views on education.” USA Today. 9/11/17.

Opportunities

RACE: Are We So Different?

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Science’s RACE: Are We So Different? exhibit continues at the museum through October 22, 2017.

This exhibition looks at race through the lens of science, history, and personal experiences to promote a better understanding of human variation. Interactive exhibit components, historical artifacts, iconic objects, compelling photographs, multimedia presentations, and attractive graphic displays offer visitors to RACE an eye-opening look at its important subject matter. RACE tells the stories of race from the biological, cultural, and historical points of view offering an unprecedented look at race and racism in the United States.

Admission is free but tickets are required. For tickets, as well as additional details on the exhibit, visit http://naturalsciences.org/exhibits/featured-exhibitions/race.

In addition to the exhibit, a series of Speaker Events which includes Diversity in STEM topics were jointly planned in collaboration with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science and sponsored by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. All of the exhibit events were free of charge and the Speaker and Conversation series were streamed live and recorded for continued access and playback. You may access the series of recordings at the following link:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7dONoqMaCHZ1hXtBTm1wLxEGwNA2W4ju.

Call for Summer 2018 NCSSM Accelerator Course Proposals

The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM) is looking for course proposals for their 2018 Summer Accelerator programs. NCSSM’s Accelerator programs, for rising 7th-12th graders, offer talented students innovative courses and opportunities to explore complex subjects, collaborate with peers from around the globe, and gain hands-on experience to kickstart college readiness and career interests. 

Courses will be selected based on the following criteria:

  • alignment to NCSSM mission and learning competencies
  • uniqueness
  • market demand
  • cost-effectiveness (past courses costs minus salaries have ranged from $0 to $2300)
  • alignment to other NCSSM Online concentrations *Does not apply to Early Accelerator proposals.
  • scheduling and availability

NCSSM is open to courses from all disciplines, however the following areas will receive priority consideration from the evaluation committee: biomedical, engineering, fabrication, and coding.

Course proposals will be due by 5pm on Wednesday, October 11th, 2017Additional information regarding course structure, locations, qualifications, schedules, and more can be found online here.

The submission form for proposals can be found online here.

Upcoming Professional Development at NCCAT

North Carolina educators have plenty of opportunities throughout the fall to attend the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT), a recognized national leader in professional development programming for teachers. Applicants are encouraged to register as soon as possible to ensure a spot. Programs are available to North Carolina educators at the Cullowhee and Ocracoke campuses, online and with NCCAT faculty visiting school districts. NCCAT provides food, lodging and programming. Teachers and or their districts are responsible for travel to and from the center and the cost of the substitute teacher.

For a complete list of upcoming NCCAT programs click here

For more information on how to apply for NCCAT programs click here.

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.

©2017 Public School Forum of North Carolina. All Rights Reserved.

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