Weekly Message - State Superintendent June Atkinson

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Superintendents' Weekly Message

Feb. 22, 2016

June Atkinson

The NC General Assembly will return for its short session on April 25 to make budget adjustments for the state. In March, the State Board of Education will hone its legislative budget and policy agenda.


One area for which DPI needs additional staff is in licensing. With the new system, it takes about six months to get a new staff member to be skilled in handling licensure complexities. We continue our efforts in reducing the backlog associated with the transition from the manual to the electronic licensing system. 


We also are aware of your ongoing frustrations about unprocessed teacher licenses. To that end, we want to make sure you receive ongoing updates to how licensure is processing your requests.


Since the online licensure application system went live on Aug. 1, 2015, we have approved 26,291 applications in the new systems. On Dec. 2, 2015, we had 9,838 applications pending. By Feb. 19, that had been cut to 7,847 pending. We continue to focus attention on this area, recognizing that licensure processing requires a specialized skill set. We will continue to look for ways to better communicate the progress we are making. We do recognize that we need to continue to work on strategies to expedite the elimination of the unprocessed applications.


We know these issues are extremely important to you and to the operation of your schools. If you have input you would like to share regarding the top priorities that you identify for public school funding adjustments and policy issues, please share those through the Let’s Talk software available on DPI’s home page. Please select Education Policy Feedback as your dialog topic. 

June Atkinson's Signature

Minimum Professional Standards Set for
School Nutrition Professionals


The United States Department of Agriculture has established minimum professional standards requirements for school nutrition professionals who oversee, manage and operate the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs.


The standards, another key provision of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, aim to institute minimum education standards for new state and local school nutrition directors as well as annual professional development standards for all school nutrition personnel. These new standards will ensure school nutrition personnel have the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to administer the federally-assisted nutrition programs in compliance with federal and state regulations and in accordance with nationally-recognized best practices. 


The final rule:

• created minimum hiring standards for new school food authority directors/administrators based on the school district’s size;

• established minimum hiring standards for new state directors of school nutrition programs and state directors of distributing agencies; and

• required minimum annual professional development standards for all new and current school nutrition personnel.


Under the new rule, the state education agency has the authority to waive certain hiring requirements under unique employment market conditions. Should your district have a viable candidate for the position of school nutrition director/administrator who does not meet the minimum employment standards, and the district wishes to consider available waiver options, please contact School Nutrition Services Section Chief Lynn Harvey or 919/807-3506.


NCDPI's School Nutrition Section is committed to providing a variety of professional development opportunities for school nutrition administrators/directors, supervisors and other central office staff through the department's School Nutrition Leadership Academy, which is a partnership between the department and the North Carolina State University’s Center for Continuing and Professional Development.


The section also routinely identifies web-based professional development opportunities for school nutrition personnel at the school/site level. These continuing education/professional development opportunities, along with opportunities provided by the national School Nutrition Association and the School Nutrition Association of North Carolina, provide quality educational opportunities for little or no cost to the district or the employees.


If you have questions about the new professional development standards established by the USDA, please contact Lynn Harvey at the contact information shown above. 

Multi-Tiered System of Support

Multi-Tiered System of Support:
Problem Solving Within an MTSS Framework


There are six critical components that may be continually examined to determine success in building a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS). Problem solving is the foundational component of this school improvement framework. District and school teams working toward implementation fidelity will:

-  identify gaps between where they are and where they want to be with students’ academics, behaviors, and social-emotional goals;

-  use a consistent problem-solving process across the district, school, grade level, content area and tiers;

-  use data to determine why student groups, subgroups, and individuals are not meeting expectations; and

-  develop and implement detailed plans to address instructional and intervention needs.


NCDPI staff are providing professional development, technical assistance and coaching to strengthen implementation of MTSS in every district, charter school and state-operated program. Your district has an opportunity to submit a Readiness Instrument, which will be used to customize this support.


Click here to register a district or a school team for Problem Solving in an MTSS Framework. If you have questions, please contact Amy Jablonski.

Implementation Science

Implementation Science:
The Five Active Implementation Frameworks


Students cannot benefit from services they do not receive.  Active Implementation Frameworks promote the full and effective use of evidence-based programs and evidence-informed innovations so that student outcomes are improved.


Five frameworks guide Active Implementation:

*  Usable Interventions;

*  Implementation Stages;

*  Implementation Drivers;

*  Implementation Teams; and

*  Improvement Cycles.

Opportunities to deepen your understanding about Implementation Stages and the Active Implementation Frameworks may be found in this video module and a handout with definitions and visuals.


Happening Now


The Chatham County District Implementation Team (DIT), a K-3 Formative Assessment Usability Partner, has moved from the exploration stage to the installation stage of implementation.


During the installation stage, staff revisited their DIT membership according to selection criteria and added new members to strengthen the infrastructure in support of improved student outcomes. The Chatham DIT recognizes the value of having voices from a variety of perspectives and has representatives from PreK, Elementary, Title I, MTSS, K-3 teachers and principals.


If you have questions, please contact Laura Winter.    

NC Global Education

NCDPI Global Educator Digital Badge Guidance Webinar


Join NCDPI staff for an overview of the Global Educator Digital Badge process and available resources inclusive of the expanded educator categories (other teachers, principals and central office administrators) eligible for the Digital Badge.

The same webinar will be offered at two times on Tuesday, March 15: 10 – 11 a.m. or 4 – 5 p.m. (click on the time to register for the session you want to attend).


ACT Testing Preparation Links


The March 1 ACT test date is right around the corner for high school students. The following information will be shared with high school principals and teachers so that they may emphasize the importance of this test with teachers and students respectively. Teachers also can help students do a final review before this important examination. 


Below are links to math practice questions that are interactive, two full sample tests that include all content areas, and a practice website that includes a breakdown of math topics with review videos. These resources may be used in classrooms or provided to students for at-home preparation. With your help, our students can reach the college and career readiness benchmarks!


Sample mathematics questions from College Board:

Set 1

Set 2

Set 3

Set 4

Set 5


Free practice tests for all content areas (includes answer keys):




There also is a website with free tutorials, questions and videos to help students review in class or on their own, and one for general ACT information.

Title III Joins the NCCCIP


Title III staff with the NC Comprehensive Continuous Improvement Plan (CCIP) are excited to announce that beginning in the 2016-17 school year, the Title III application will be part of the consolidated application in the web-based grants management system, the CCIP.


This move allows staff to streamline the application process and to build capacity to serve English learners through collaboration. Please see the FAQ available online for more information.

Professional Development

Summer Leadership Conference 2016


Summer Leadership Conference 2016 will be held June 19-22 at the Omni Grove Park Inn, Asheville. 


The NCSSA Superintendents' Retreat also will be a part of the conference and will begin on Sunday, June 19. In addition, we will be hosting a New Administrators' Institute this year, which also begins on Sunday, June 19. Keynote speakers are Robert Putnam (author of Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis), Steve Dembo (Building Bolder Schools: It Doesn’t Hurt to be First, Discovery Education), and Donna Beegle (author of See Poverty, Be the Difference). 


Conference information, including hotels, online registration, tentative agenda, and speaker bios are available online. Questions may be directed to Jan Webster (828.774.5681 ext, 21) or Vicki Wilson (828.774.5681 ext. 22).

Green Ribbon Award

Two Schools Nominated for “Green Ribbon Schools” Award


Congratulations to Sandy Grove Middle (Hoke County Schools) and Wiley International Studies Magnet Elementary (Wake County Schools) for recently being selected to represent North Carolina in the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools Award program.


These schools were selected because of their exemplary efforts in providing healthy learning facilities and a strong education program. The Green Ribbon Schools Award is the first comprehensive federal policy for schools related to environment, health and education. Since 2012, four North Carolina public schools and two school districts have received the national award.

2015 Public School Law Book

The 2015 edition of Public School Laws of North Carolina is now available to purchase through NCDPI Publications Sales. Public School Laws of North Carolina contains statutes, case notes and opinions of the Attorney General through the 2015 session. It also includes statutes other than 115C (LexisNexis Edition).

The book costs $37 and may be ordered by calling 919/807-3470, or visiting the Publications Sales website.

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