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The Friday Report

September 29, 2017

Forum News

This Week on Education Matters:  Principal Pay

Last year average pay for principals in North Carolina ranked 50th nationally. The General Assembly responded with $35 million in pay raises for school-based administrators and a new principal pay plan. That plan is now generating concerns that many principals may actually lose pay and that it may create a disincentive for top principals to take jobs at chronically low-performing, often high poverty schools. This week on Education Matters we discuss what’s next.

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Guests Include:

  • Dr. Ray Spain, Superintendent, Warren County Schools (pictured first above)
  • Matt Wight, Principal, Apex Friendship High School, Wake County (pictured second above)
  • Katherine Joyce, Executive Director, NC Association of School Administrators (pictured below)
  • Jason Griffin, 2017 NC Principal of the Year, Perquimans County (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

Durham School Board Prepared to ‘Fight,’ Won’t Let State ‘Take Away Our Schools’

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Photo Credit: WRAL.

Durham Public Schools’ leaders said Thursday they are prepared to “fight” if the state tries to take control of any of their schools and hand them over to charter school operators.

Two of their schools – Glenn Elementary and Lakewood Elementary – are on the state’s shortlist of low-performing schools being considered for North Carolina’s new Innovative School District. They are being considered because their performance scores are among the lowest 5 percent in the state.

The ISD will take five struggling schools from across the state and hand them over to charter school operators, who will manage and run them in an effort to improve their academic performance. The State Board of Education will choose two schools this year, likely in November or December, and three next year.

Durham school leaders have repeatedly asked not to be included in the program. But just because a district asks not to participate doesn’t mean it will be removed from consideration. If a school is chosen and declines to participate, by law it must close its doors and shut down.

At their meeting Thursday night, Durham Board of Education members did not say whether they would shut down a school if it is chosen, but they promised to fight back.

“We’re going to fight it with every option that we have,” said board Chairman Mike Lee. “If those in Raleigh are not familiar with Durham, get ready, because Durham is different. Durham is different from what you guys might be experiencing in other areas, and we’re going to prove that.”

Board member Natalie Beyer called the ISD a “hair-brained idea” that is “bad for children” and said the board “will do everything we can to fight for our students.”

For board member Matt Sears, the discussion was personal. One of his children attends Lakewood Elementary, and his two younger children will eventually attend the school. Sears said he was “insulted” by a recent comment State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey made to NC Policy Watch, in which he said the districts under consideration have had “plenty of time to deal with these failing schools.”

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

To read more on this topic, see the following article about Johnston County Schools: This NC school system had a clear message to the state: back off.

For the list of schools that are under consideration for the ISD, see NC Innovative School District narrows list of initial schools under consideration.

Excerpt from:

Hinchcliffe, K. “Durham school board prepared to ‘fight,’ won’t let state ‘take away our schools.'” WRAL. 9/28/17.

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.

‘Fighting the Status Quo’: Inside the Combative World of NC’s New Public Schools Chief 

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North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson reads his daughter’s favorite book. Photo Credit: WRAL.

In the nine months Mark Johnson has been in Raleigh, differing narratives have emerged about the state’s new superintendent of North Carolina’s public schools.

To some, the 33-year-old is a smart, energetic, natural leader focused on shaking up the state’s education department and bringing fresh changes to a stale system. To others, he is an inexperienced leader who keeps his office door closed and at times openly criticizes colleagues he disagrees with.

But if you ask Johnson, he is simply a man on a mission, determined to battle those promoting the status quo in public education. He may be young and only have a few years of experience teaching and serving on a local school board, but “don’t underestimate me,” he warns. Behind his boyish looks he says are bold, innovative ideas to change the future of public education in North Carolina. 

Since becoming superintendent, Johnson has remained relatively quiet about his specific ideas for shaking up the system. And he has often eluded the press, preferring to release emailed statements through his spokesmen instead of doing interviews – a departure from his predecessor, who frequently spoke with the media and was more easily accessible. But last week, Johnson agreed to talk with reporters from WRAL News and EducationNC.

“This is my first job in my life where I have to really wear a suit every day,” Johnson said, settling into a conference room chair at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. From his office in Raleigh, he oversees more than 1.5 million students and 180,000 full-time public school employees across the state.

During the interview, Johnson spoke passionately about his vision for public schools and the three initiatives he is most excited about:

  • Promoting early childhood learning by encouraging parents to read to their children every day
  • Advancing personalized learning in classrooms so students can work at their own pace
  • Teaching high school students that college is not the only path to success

He joked about his youthful appearance, saying the most common misconception about him is that he just graduated from high school. And he brushed off his critics, including those who say he takes orders from Republican state lawmakers.

“I have a great working relationship with the General Assembly, and our visions actually align very similarly,” he said. “It’s a give and take. We don’t agree on everything, and we work together on what we do agree with.”

Throughout the interview, Johnson frequently returned to his often-used talking points, promising to bring urgency, ownership, innovation and transparency to the state’s education system. He also spoke about his past and how that has shaped his beliefs about public education.

More NC Students Taking Advanced Placement Exams, Earning College Credit

Continuing a recent trend, more North Carolina high school students are taking and succeeding in college-level Advanced Placement courses, according to a report released this week by The College Board, which administers the AP program and exams.

The number of public school students in North Carolina taking at least one AP exam in 2016-17 increased 6 percent from the previous year, compared to a 5.2 percent increase nationally, according to The College Board data.

“It is encouraging to see more students taking advantage of ways to get college-level credit that can save them and their families money on higher-education costs,” said North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson. “Earning college credit while still in high school is one example of the multiple pathways to success that our public schools provide to students.”

In all, 74,041 students in the state’s public schools took a total of 138,282 AP exams, of which 71,337 received a proficient score of 3 or higher. Compared to the 2015-16, North Carolina saw a 6.9 percent increase in the number of exams taken and a 7.1 percent increase in test takers earning a score of at least 3. The test is scored on a scale of 1 to 5.

Successful performance on Advanced Placement exams can help students earn transferable college credit and save on college costs. In addition, research shows that students who take AP classes are more likely to persist in college and graduate in four years.

The College Board also released results on a revised version of the SAT college admissions exam, showing North Carolina’s public school graduates scoring above the national average among public school graduates for the second straight year. But with a new test administered beginning in March 2016, the results for the class of 2017 set a new baseline and are not comparable to previous years.

The combined average score for 2017 public school graduates in North Carolina was 1,074, compared to 1,044 for public school graduates nationally. For all graduates, North Carolina’s average score was 1,081, compared to 1,060 nationally.

The state’s SAT results reflect the performance of fewer students in North Carolina taking the exam. The scores of 44,325 graduates of North Carolina public schools in 2017 represent about half the state’s 2017 graduates – a decrease of about 8 percent from the previous year’s 48,327 graduates who took the exam. Fewer public school students in North Carolina are taking the college admissions exam because the state now requires and pays the cost for all 11th graders to take the ACT college-readiness exam, a measure also widely used in college-admissions decisions.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

NC Department of Public Instruction. “More NC Students Taking Advanced Placement Exams, Earning College Credit.” 9/26/17.

NC Schools Find Too Much Student Success Bars Principals from Big New Bonuses 

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Students at Garinger High, where two consecutive years of strong growth on state exams cost the principal a shot at a new $10,000 state bonus. Photo Credit: David T. Foster III, The Charlotte Observer.

Students at Garinger High made strong gains on last year’s state exams, raising the school’s grade from a D to a C.

That combination of struggling students and strong growth would have qualified Principal Kelly Gwaltney for a new $10,000 state bonus … except for one thing. Because the school also made strong growth the year before, when Gwaltney arrived with a mission to turn the east Charlotte school around, she doesn’t qualify.

The new bonus plan, part of a sweeping slate of changes to North Carolina principal pay, is designed to reward principals for helping students succeed and jump-start improvements at the schools that most need help. While most applaud the goals, the details have proven vexing – including a bonus plan that penalizes principals for too much student success.

The new rewards hinge on growth ratings, which are calculated by a private company based on students’ year-to-year progress on state exams. A school where most students fail state exams can still land in the top category, potentially qualifying the principal for the bonus, if its students showed bigger-than-expected gains.

​To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Helms, A. “NC schools find too much student success bars principals from big new bonuses.” The Charlotte Observer. 9/27/17.

UNC System Teacher Preparation Increase Muddied by Data Collection Changes

Though the UNC System saw a rise in educator preparation program enrollment in fall 2016 for the first time in several years, the changes may not reflect increased interest in teaching as a career. The data collection methods used in 2016 differed from previous years which may have influenced the results.

The overall enrollment in teacher preparation programs at UNC System institutions increased by 6 percent, but a category called “other” accounted for almost all of the growth from 2015 to 2016. “Other” includes lateral entry teachers (professionals in different industries who go back to school to teach) as well as teachers earning specialized certificates in areas like gifted education. The “other” category grew more than the total enrollment, which was pulled down by a drop in students pursuing bachelor’s degrees.

“I think the 6 percent is a pretty good estimate,” Dan Cohen-Vogel, UNC General Administration’s vice president of data and analytics, said in an email. “No way to know exactly how much the data system improvements affected the totals — and it’s even possible that the changes in different areas all come out in the wash (i.e., that it’s exactly the 6 percent).”

Some of the increase in the “other” category has to do with definition, Cohen-Vogel said. Some “non-degree seekers” were moved from the bachelor’s degree category to the “other” category. Some individuals showing up in the “other” category for the first time just were not reported in prior years, he said.

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A disclosure saying “noise” existed in the data was attached to reports from UNC General Administration. Cohen-Vogel said there was a complete overhaul in how they collected data over the past year.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Bell, L. “UNC System teacher preparation increase muddied by data collection changes.” EducationNC. 9/26/17.

29 New Charter Schools Applications Received; Approved Schools to Open Fall 2019 

Twenty-nine nonprofit boards have submitted applications to develop charter schools to open in August 2019. The deadline to submit an application through the N.C. Office of Charter Schools’ automated application system was Sept. 22.

Each charter school applicant was required to provide a detailed description of its proposed school’s mission and a plan to meet that mission for students. Applicants also were required to pay a $1,000 application fee and perform criminal background checks on their proposed board members.

The Office of Charter Schools will now review the applications for completeness before forwarding them to the N.C. Charter Schools Advisory Board (CSAB). The CSAB will use an established structure, including external evaluators and applicant interviews, to review the applications. At the conclusion of this process, the CSAB will recommend applicants to the State Board of Education for approval.

North Carolina currently has 173 charter schools open for students. An additional 15 schools received a favorable report in August from the State Board of Education to begin a planning year for preparation to open in August 2018. NCDPI staff will provide training for these charter groups during the next year as they prepare to open. During the 2017 application year, five approved schools were granted a one-year delay in opening by the State Board of Education. These 20 schools – once all are open – will bring the state’s total number of charter schools to 193.

Charter schools are public schools operated by nonprofit boards. The schools have open enrollment and no tuition is charged to attend. Tax dollars are the primary funding source for charter schools.

Visit the N.C. Office of Charter Schools’ website for more information.


Reprinted from:
NC Department of Public Instruction. “29 New Charter Schools Applications Received; Approved Schools to Open Fall 2019.” 9/27/17.

UNC President: Higher Education Must Adapt to New Realities, and Be Affordable

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UNC President Margaret Spellings (pictured right) said Tuesday that universities have made limited progress on essential reforms contemplated a decade ago, with more work to do on measuring student outcomes and ensuring that families can afford a college education for their children.

Her remarks came at the 11th anniversary of the national Spellings Commission report on the future of higher education, which recommended a series of improvements on student access, affordability, quality instruction and accountability. Spellings convened the national commission when she was education secretary under President George W. Bush, and the themes tackled then are relevant today, she said.

Higher education leaders gathered at UNC-Chapel Hill on Tuesday for a symposium that looked at the commission’s findings, then and now.

The event came at a time of shifting realities and polarized attitudes about higher education, when the nation has more student debt than credit card debt and national polls show shaky support for institutions that have long distinguished the United States.

“Today it seems like there are two competing narratives about higher education in our country. One, that it’s hopelessly broken, can’t adapt to meet the needs, in need of dramatic disruption,” Spellings said. “Or it’s extraordinary in every way, the finest in the world, and should be shielded and preserved as is.”

Neither is completely true, she said, but there is also a new reality. More is being asked of higher education at a time when many experts agree that adults will need some sort of education or training beyond high school to succeed in the economy of the future.

“It means we have to do more with less,” she said, adding, “It also means we have to challenge old ways of doing business.” Higher education must do a better job in measuring student learning results, which could be done with more testing and other methods, she said. Universities should use new data tools to understand how their students learn and what kinds of instruction methods are most effective.

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Stancill, J. “UNC president: Higher education must adapt to new realities, and be affordable.” The News & Observer. 9/26/17.

Researchers Study the Effect of Natural Disasters on Students in Edgecombe

The Stanford University Research Organization will use data from Edgecombe County Public Schools to study kindergarten preparedness and the effect of natural disasters on students.

The information will be part of study conducted by Seth Saeugling and Vichi Jagannathan, both former teachers in Eastern North Carolina, who have been interviewing families in Tarboro to research the effects of trauma on young children for months. The research is being done under the auspices of the Public School Forum of North Carolina, said Erin Swanson, director of innovation for the school district.

“In an effort to be data-driven, this community group would really like to understand the specific needs of children who are entering ECPS kindergarten classrooms,” Swanson said. “The goal then is to co-develop pilots and programs that will address specific needs for parents and children ages pre-natal to four.”

The two part-study will also examine how the recent flooding in Edgecombe County affected students and their outcomes, Swanson said.

“There has been research on how natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina affected students, but it would be useful to understand how smaller scale natural disasters, especially in rural communities, impact students in schools,” Swanson said. “This could potentially be used as evidence for lobbying for funds or help better understand interpretations of accountability measures collected over the relevant time span.”

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:

Harper,  A. “Researchers to study school data.” Rocky Mount Telegram. 9/25/17.

National News

Trump Wants Education Dept. to Direct $200 Million to STEM, Computer Science

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Ivanka Trump, second from right, speaks with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., right, before President Donald Trump signs a memorandum in the Oval Office of the White House on Sept. 25 to expand access to STEM education. Photo Credit: Alex Brandon, AP.

President Donald Trump is calling on the U.S. Department of Education to put a new focus on STEM education, especially computer science education—even as his budget seeks to scrap federal grants that schools can use for those programs.

“This administration is committed to building the workforce of tomorrow,” Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and adviser, told reporters Monday, according to a White House pool report.

The White House wants U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her team to steer more competitive-grant money from programs like the Education Innovation and Research fund toward recipients that have a STEM focus. And the administration wants DeVos to set a goal of directing at $200 million a year in grant funds to STEM and computer science.

Ironically, though, the Trump administration’s proposed budget for fiscal 2018 eliminates one of the main federal programs in the department that districts can use for computer science: The Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants, which can be used for health, safety, arts, technology programs and more, and are supposed to get more than $1.5 billion under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Congress didn’t take the administration up on its suggestion to scrap the program, but lawmakers aren’t seeking to fund it at nearly the level ESSA recommended. The House of Representatives wants $500 million for the program, and a Senate bill would include $450 million.

GOP Bill Offers Dreamers Citizenship after ‘Extreme Vetting’ 

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Immigrant rights groups, advocating for DACA, the program that allows youths who were brought to the country illegally as children to legally work and be shielded from deportation, rally in Phoenix, Ariz., Monday, Aug. 28, 2017.

Photo Credit: Astrid Galvan, AP.

Sen. Thom Tillis introduced his “conservative Dream Act” on Monday to provide a pathway to citizenship for as many as 2.5 million young undocumented immigrants.

Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, and co-sponsors James Lankford, R-Okla., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, pitched their plan — the Succeed Act — as “merit-based” relief that must be earned and, critically, not “amnesty.”

But unlike other merit-based immigration proposals that limit new immigrants from entering the country based on their job skills, this proposal would limit who can remain in the country based on their years of American education, work experience or military service.

“This is not an amnesty bill,” Lankford said.

To be eligible, applicants had to arrive in the United States before the age of 16 and before June 15, 2012, pass a “rigorous” criminal background check, submit biometric data to the Department of Homeland Security, pay off existing federal tax liabilities and sign a waiver that they won’t be eligible for any form of immigration benefit if they ware convicted of a crime while on conditional permanent resident status.

The vetting will include three separate rounds of security and background checks to ensure they have no criminal history and pose no national security threat. The first check would happen when the immigrant enters the program followed by a second check after five years. The third check comes after 15 years, if and when the immigrant applies to become a citizen.

“We think it is a balanced resolution to a vexing problem that hasn’t been solved for 30 years,” Tillis said. “We’ll take hits on the far left for saying you’re not getting them to citizenship soon enough and we’ll take it on the far right for saying you’ve ever given them an opportunity to pursue citizenship.”

To continue reading the complete article, click here.

Excerpt from:
Ordonez, F. and Murphy, B. “GOP bill offers Dreamers citizenship after ‘extreme vetting.'” McClatchy DC Bureau. 9/24/17.

Opportunities

Burroughs Wellcome Fund Application Open for Promoting Innovation in Science and Mathematics (PRISM) Award

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The Promoting Innovation in Science and Mathematics or PRISM Award provides NC public school teachers the opportunity to receive up to $3000 in funding towards the purchase of STEM-related materials and up to $1500 for any necessary training for those materials.

The award was created in 2012 by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund to support teachers in their efforts to provide quality hands-on, inquiry-based activities for their students.

“The PRISM Award enables teachers to provide new and inventive ways of teaching STEM in their classrooms,” said Dr. John Burris, president of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. “For a relatively modest investment students all over North Carolina can benefit from the wealth of material that may not otherwise be available to them.”

The Fund has provided 238 awards to 77 of North Carolina’s 115 school districts for a total of $750,000. One teacher, Matthew Kinnaird in Buncombe County, used the PRISM Award to build a radio telescope with his class to gather information for NASA.

Teachers may apply at https://www.bwfund.org/grant-programs/science-education/promoting-innovation-science-and-mathematics. The deadline to apply is December 5, 2017.

Hope Street Group Teacher and Instructional Staff Survey

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Teacher voice matters! Let your voice be heard on the topic of professional development and learning by taking the short survey linked below. In partnership with NCDPI and with support from EdNC.org, Hope Street Group NC Teacher Voice Network Fellows are asking teachers and instructional staff to complete a short survey to gather feedback. The survey will only take a few minutes and your participation would be greatly appreciated: your thoughts will be used in an effort to improve your professional learning experiences at the state and district level.

The survey will close on Sunday, October 1, 2017. All survey responses are anonymous and will not be made public. Only teachers and instructional staff are asked to respond, but please share widely to help garner as many responses as possible.

Desktop Survey Link
Mobile Survey Link

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 here.

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. 

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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