March 17, 2016 Principals' Biweekly Message

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Principals' Biweekly Message

March 17, 2016

June Atkinson

When will I use this? Why am I learning this? I’m sure that many middle and high school teachers have heard this question from their students. This week, middle school students had a chance to learn more about how their academic learning will connect with careers in North Carolina by participating in Students@Work Week.


This year, 23,000 students and more than 100 businesses participated in this joint initiative of the North Carolina Business Committee for Education and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. I participated in one event today at Lenovo with students from Wake Young Men's Leadership Academy in Wake County and Gravelly Hill Middle School, A.L. Stanback Middle School, C.W. Stanford Middle School in Orange County. This was an outstanding time for the middle school students to see first-hand what work looks like in the 21st century and how their academic skills could be put to use in the future.


I appreciate Biogen and GSK for the grants that made this year’s Students@Work event possible, and I encourage middle school principals to consider future participation. Helping students connect the dots between their schoolwork and their future work is very motivating for young people. For more information about Students@Work Week, visit the North Carolina Business Committee for Education website.  

June Atkinson Signature

Multi-Tiered System of Support

Multi-Tiered System of Support:


Over the past four weeks, over 150 educators attended one of the Problem-Solving Within an MTSS Framework sessions. A “problem” is not attached to a negative connotation – it is defined as a difference between what we want and what is happening. MTSS teams problem solving around district, school, grade level, group, classroom or student data will consider questions such as

-  Is there a problem?

-  Is this the right problem to solve?

-  What is the magnitude of the problem?


Big ideas to consider before beginning problem solving include:

-  the systematic problem-solving process that will be utilized;

-  the implementation and student data that will be utilized; and

-  the connection between this data and the health of our Core (at various level).


To further assist in developing critical components around MTSS, please review the MTSS Principal’s Quarterly. If you have additional questions, please contact Amy Jablonski.

Implementation Science

Implementation Science:
MTSS to Present at National Conference


NCDPI’s MTSS team is presenting at the Association for Positive Behavior Support’s 13th Annual Conference in San Francisco, Calif. on March 24. The team’s session, Using Implementation Science to Integrate Academic and Behavior Systems Across North Carolina, aligns with the theme of the conference.


The MTSS team will share the story of how NCDPI used Implementation Science to develop supports for all districts, charter schools and state-operated programs to implement Multi-Tiered Systems of Support. Participants also will understand how the department utilized research around concepts of readiness, capacity, and sustainability to develop a statewide strategic plan, as well as how the state team calibrated evaluation and implementation tools from exemplar states and agencies to support the work of the state team, districts and charter schools. 

Maria Pitre-Martin

Pitre-Martin Named Chief Academic and Digital Learning Officer


The State Board of Education this month approved the hiring of Thomasville City Schools’ Superintendent Dr. Maria Pitre-Martin as the new Chief Academic and Digital Learning Officer for the NC Department of Public Instruction.


Pitre-Martin brings a great deal of expertise to this role from her current position and from her prior role at NCDPI as the director of K-12 Curriculum and Instruction. Past experience also includes chief academic officer for the Philadelphia School District, an assistant superintendent for the East Baton Rouge Parish School System in Louisiana, director of research and staff development for the Fort Bend Independent School District in Sugar Land, Texas, and principal of Oakwood Intermediate School in College Station, Texas.


She begins her new role at NCDPI in May.

NC Advanced Manufacturing and STEM Careers Awareness Week is April 3-9


April 3-9 is NC Advanced Manufacturing and STEM Careers Awareness Week in North Carolina.


Advanced Manufacturing and STEM careers are modern, sophisticated and use cutting-edge technology to create products and services in fields such as aviation, communication, biotechnology and healthcare. Students are encouraged to visit their local community college or meet with business and industry representatives to learn more about education opportunities in this career field.    

NC Requesting Waiver from Assessing Speaking and Listening in Reading/English Language Arts Assessments


The U.S. Department of Education (USED) is allowing states to request a waiver from assessing speaking and listening as part of its Reading/English language arts assessments. In June 2010, the North Carolina State Board of Education adopted Reading/English language arts content standards, which include standards for speaking and listening. Federal law requires assessments include all adopted content standards; however, measuring speaking and listening skills in a large-scale summative assessment is not practical at this time.


As a result, North Carolina is seeking a waiver from this requirement pursuant to section 8401(b) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act. Specifically, North Carolina is requesting a limited waiver of section 1111(b)(3)(C)(ii) of the ESEA, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, so that the state’s assessment system need not measure speaking and listening standards at this time.


The requested waiver would be effective through the 2016-17 school year. North Carolina will continue to develop best practices with respect to assessing speaking and listening on large-scale assessments, though it may request an extension of the waiver for subsequent years.


The public may submit input/feedback on this potential waiver online by clicking on the Let’s Talk icon on the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction website then selecting the USED Waiver as the dialogue topic to provide feedback. The feedback window is open until 5 p.m., Monday, April 4.

Submit Comments on Annual State Application for Grant Award Under Part B of IDEA


NCDPI is making available its annual State Application for receiving grant award under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) as amended in 2004 for Federal Fiscal Year 2016.


A copy of the State Application is available for public review on the NCDPI Exceptional Children website under Hot Topics. Also, each local school district’s central office will receive a copy for public review. Comments will be accepted through April 22. The review period ends May 6.


Interested citizens may submit comments via email or by U.S. mail to: North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, Exceptional Children Division, ATTN: Tracy Riddle/Carol Ann Hudgens, 6356 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-6356.

2016 Teacher of the Year Summit


NCDPI is currently planning to host its fourth annual Teacher of the Year Summit, Managing Change, Social Media, and Developing Leadership, at the Durham Hilton Hotel in Durham on Friday, April 29. In order for this to be a reality, DPI staff have asked districts to support their Teachers of the Year for 2014-15 and 2015-16 by paying their travel costs (mileage and hotel) and substitute pay.


The current year’s North Carolina Teacher of the Year Keana Triplett and this past year’s recipient James Ford have agreed to co-chair this summit. IBM has provided a grant and will be facilitating the day’s training.


Principals are being informed of this so that if your school has a district-wide Teacher of the Year for the current year or last year, your teacher will be receiving an email invitation to attend the Teacher of the Year Summit.

NC Virtual Public Schools Logo

Virtual Academies


A growing number of districts are creating virtual academies to not only manage their online student populations, but also to bring back students into the system who have dropped out or are home schooling.


NCVPS is excited to be a key part of the virtual academies. Read more about the virtual academies online, and contact NCVPS staff if you would like help setting up your virtual academy.    

Teacher Working Conditions

#TaketheSurvey2016 … Before It’s Too Late


We have reached the mid-point in the North Carolina Teacher Working Conditions (NC TWC) Survey window. As of today, a little over 53.32 percent of our education workforce has participated. We need your help to ensure that the remaining 46.68 percent gets their results in as soon as possible.


The NC TWC Survey, which remains open through March 25, gathers feedback from teachers, counselors, principals and other administrators about every aspect of the school. The web-based survey is voluntary, anonymous and confidential.


If you have any concerns or questions about the survey, please consult your designated school-based representative. If you need additional assistance or technical support, please contact Amy Laughter, western regional education facilitator and lead NC TWC contact.

Professional Development

Registration Opens March 21 for Free Online Courses


The NCDPI Educator Effectiveness Division will open registration for the following nine instructor-led courses on Monday, March 21:

-  Building and Sustaining Professional Development: 6 weeks, 1 CEU

-  Connecting with our 21st Century Learners: 5 weeks, 1 CEU

-  Digital Literacies in the K-12 Classroom: 7 weeks, 1.5 CEUs

-  Introduction to Data Literacy: 5 weeks, 1 CEU

-  Universal Design for Learning 1: UDL in the Everyday Classroom: 5 weeks, 1 CEU

-  North Carolina Teacher Standards and Evaluation Process: 6 weeks, 2 CEUs

-  Responsibilities of the 21st-Century Educator: 7 weeks, 1 CEU

-  Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects, Part 1: 5 weeks, 0.5 CEU

-  Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects, Part 2: 7 weeks, 1.5 CEUs


Registration for these free online courses is limited to 35 participants per section. For a full description of courses or information about the Home Base Professional Development System, please visit the online PD catalog. Classes start April 4.


Questions may be directed to Geetanjali Soni.

Spring Holocaust Teacher Workshops


Principals, please share this information with appropriate teachers.


These one-day, multi-county workshops are for middle and high school social studies and English/language arts teachers. Workshop presenter Dr. Peter Stein (UNC-CH, emeritus, Holocaust scholar and child survivor) will be joined by either Esther Lederman, a Holocaust survivor who will recount her experiences in hiding for 22 months, or Abe Piasek, who will recount his Holocaust experiences surviving the Aushwitz concentration camp.


Participants will receive a copy of The Holocaust: a North Carolina Teacher’s Resource, a guide for teaching about the Holocaust at middle and high school levels. There is no cost to attend the workshop, and substitute pay is provided. Teachers also will receive .6 CEUs. Space is limited so prompt registration is encouraged.


The workshop will be held from 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Dates and locations are as follows:

April 5, Cullowhee (Jackson County)

April 12, Chapel Hill-Carrboro (Orange County)

April 19, Rocky Mount (Nash County).


Registration details are available online. For more information, please email Director of Teacher Workshops Audrey Krakovitz.

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