May 2019 From the Board Room

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From the Board Room: Activities of the NC Board of Education

MAY 2019



The State Board of Education is comprised of the State Treasurer, the Lieutenant Governor and 11 citizens appointed by the Governor. This newsletter highlights the Board’s activities on behalf of the 1.5 million public school students in our state and the more than 100,000 educators who provide services to children. You may view all State Board of Education member and advisor information online. To access current and archived versions of From the Boardroom, visit the State Board of Education’s website.



Follow the State Board of Education on Twitter @edstateboard_nc

sbe plan

Board Focuses on 2025 Strategic Plan Development


The State Board of Education devoted two days early this month working to finalize its strategic plan for K-12 education in North Carolina through 2025.


The current statewide Strategic Plan will expire in June 2020, though there is a need for revisions now. The board’s efforts to update the plan have focused on research, review and understanding the state’s federally mandated Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan, working with a board committee to develop goals, and holding issue sessions at monthly board meetings to clarify its goals and objectives.


Additionally, for the first time, the board is engaging in gathering shareholder feedback to develop statewide policy that drives educational progress for all students.


The proposed plan is based on three overarching goals:

  • Eliminate opportunity gaps between students by 2025.
  • Improve school and district performance by 2025.
  • Increase educator preparedness to meet the needs of every child by 2025.

For key context and background information, the board during its planning and work session this month heard presentations on a number of areas directly related to achieving the three goals, including standards and accountability, oversight of charter schools, equity, early literacy and the principal pipeline.


To share your thoughts on the proposed Strategic Plan, please complete this Google Form Survey by May 31.


Michael Petrilli, a national education policy expert and president of the Fordham Institute, told the board that to help more students succeed, schools and students must be held to high standards and that tests are a necessary measurement. He said that K-12 education is the fulcrum for improving post-secondary attainment.


“We can’t move these numbers if we don’t do a better job in K12,” Petrilli said, noting that even as career and technical education programs are proving to be an effective track to success for a growing number of students, strong CTE programs demand well-prepared students. “You can’t do high quality CTE for kids who cannot read, cannot write or cannot do math.”


He said that while early accountability efforts, such as No Child Left Behind, may have erred on the side of punitive measures, or been perceived that way, holding schools accountable through standardized tests remains critical to ensuring successful outcomes for all students – regardless of socioeconomics.


“The priority has to be keeping a spotlight on performance,” he said, “ and [testing] has got to be this check that we just don’t rely on grades.”


The board also heard from DPI Accountability Director Tammy Howard, who outlined the state’s long history with standards and accountability, starting in the early 1990s, and continuing with the most recent transformations to shorter, more frequent assessments, known as NC Check Ins.


“It’s truly been an evolution over time,” Howard said, “from the ABCs to No Child Left Behind to ESSA.” She said that NC Check Ins, now being used by some districts in addition to end-of-grade exams, offer teachers more actionable data that they can use with students during the year.


“The feedback that we have gotten has been overwhelmingly positive,” Howard said. “The common theme is that the Check Ins are being used by teachers to determine what they need to do to improve instruction. Most of us would agree that is what we want to see happen from testing.”


From a district-level perspective, Wake Schools Accountability Director Brad McMillan told the board that schools need a more balanced system that offers high-level data for policymakers and more granular data that teachers can use to tailor their instruction to the needs of individual students.


Charter school oversight: Dave Machado, director of the Office of Charter Schools, outlined to the board the accountability and oversight measures that are used to ensure that charter schools are meeting state expectations. He explained that these include everything from an annual independent audit and annual tracking based on a performance framework to complaint investigations, site visits and the renewal process.


“We all know that charter schools enjoy a lot of flexibility,” Machado said, “and with that flexibility comes increased accountability.”


Board Chairman Eric Davis said that charter schools offer important lessons for efforts to turn around struggling schools in the state.


“We need a comprehensive turnaround strategy across the state, and we need charter schools to be a part of that solution,” Davis said.


Equity: Maria Pitre-Martin, deputy superintendent of district support, described the department’s efforts to meet the goals of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, as it applies to instructional personnel, and a 10 key priorities, including the allocation of resources to achieve fiscal equity, investment in the youngest students and focusing more closely on school culture, climate, and social-emotional development.


The board had previously adopted its definition of equity for the state’s schools: “Educational equity means that every student has access to the resources and educational rigor they need at the right moment in their education, despite race, gender, ethnicity, language, disability, family background, or family income.”


As equity applies to teaching quality under ESSA, Pitre-Martin said the focus is on how low-income and minority children enrolled in schools assisted under federal Title I support are not served at disproportionate rates by ineffective, out-of-field, or inexperienced teachers.


“Are we getting the best teachers to the students with the greatest need?” she said.


Early literacy: Tara Galloway, director of K-3 literacy, outlined to the board the state’s nine-point Framework for Early Literacy Education, grounded in a statewide definition of high quality reading instruction, for implementation through 2022. The elements within the framework include:


  • Improve focus on reading instruction in teacher preparation programs
  • Improve summer reading camp quality
  • Provide reading coach supports in low-performing schools and districts
  • Expand partnerships to support beginning teachers
  • Ensure high-quality reading curriculum and instructional materials in elementary schools


In addition to the discussion about efforts around early literacy, the board also heard about initiatives by DPI to improve literacy teaching and learning in grades four through 12.


Principal pipeline: The board heard an in-depth discussion from a panel of experts in principal development about the challenges North Carolina is facing in the recruitment and development of strong educational leaders as principals. Barriers range from pay to support.

To share your thoughts on the proposed Strategic Plan, please complete this Google Form Survey by May 31.