July 2020 From the Board Room

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

July 2020

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

Strategic Plan Graphic

State Board Delays Adoption of Revised Social Studies Standards


The State Board of Education pressed pause on the adoption of new learning standards for social studies instruction to give the Department of Public Instruction more time to add greater focus on the diverse histories and experiences of minority groups, which historically have received less attention in social studies classes in North Carolina and elsewhere.


The day before the board’s vote to delay approve of the revised standards, several students who have taken courses at Wake County’s Middle Creek High School on African American literature and history, taught by teacher Matt Scialdone, called for more inclusive social studies classes.


“It took 13 years for me to learn about history and literature that wasn’t white washed and sugar coated,” said Tashaima Person, who is now studying to be a teacher herself at UNC Greensboro. “I feel that more socially conscious information should be taught in depth in core classes like history and English and not just in electives like African American literature.”


KaLa Keaton, another Middle Creek student, said she’s often left to do independent research on issues that aren’t included in her social studies classes.


“Right now, we’re left to go behind the curriculum and do extra work,” KaLa said. “My own social media is full of students of all races seeking and sharing information about race relations without the guidance or supervision of teachers to unpack what we’re discovering.


“After over 400 years, we need to recognize real American history,” she said. “Our state is the perfect place, and now is the perfect time to start changing.”


The board on Wednesday also reviewed a resolution for adoption next month reinforcing its recently adopted strategic plan emphasizing equity in education.


Several board members and advisors appealed for the delay in the standards adoption in order to ensure that the new standards provide specific guidance to teachers and schools about issues that need to be covered.


Mariah Morris, a board advisor as 2019 Teacher of the Year, said the “hard truths” of American history, such as slavery and Jim Crow, need to be included in the standards as a “shall” to be taught and not a “may” be taught.


“We will be protecting our teachers from any backlash that they might receive from community members or parents who might be upset,” Morris said.


Board member James Ford also called for the standards to include more specific items “around teaching the rich and diverse histories of historically marginalized groups.” Ford said he wants to see the addition of specific words and concepts.


“This moment calls for that sort of intentionality around what we want students to learn,” Ford said. “We want these learning targets to reflect the demands of this current moment and the demands of so many stakeholders and communities and to make sure we are producing more socially conscious and empathetic individuals.”


The board will now consider adoption of the social studies standards later in the 2020-21 school year, with implementation beginning in the following year.  As a result of the delay, the graduation requirements have been changed for the incoming classes of 2020-21 and 2021-22. Economics and Personal Finance standards were approved by the SBE in June 2020 and will continue as a new graduation requirement.

Dr. Anthony Jackson joins as new Superintendent Advisor

Following a recommendation from the NC School Superintendents' Association, Anthony Jackson, Superintendent of Vance County joined the State Board of Education in his advisor role. Throughout his career, Dr. Jackson has received several awards and commendations including, being named the North Carolina Central Region's Superintendent of the Year in 2014. In 2017 Jackson received the prestigious Friday Medal for his leadership with implementing technological innovation in school systems in North Carolina given annually by the Friday Institute for Innovation at North Carolina State University. In July 2019, Dr. Jackson was again named the North Carolina Central Region's Superintendent of the Year and in November 2019, Dr. Jackson was named the 2020 North Carolina A. Craig Phillips Superintendent of the Year.

jb buxton

New State Board of Education Committee Chairs as Mr. JB Buxton becomes President of Durham Technical Community College

The Board extended congratulations to Mr. JB Buxton who was recently named the president of Durham Technical Community College. Given his new role and responsibilities, Chair Davis announced changes to the following committees:

  • Student Learning and Achievement Committee - Ms. Jill Camnitz, Chair 
  • Special Committee for MyFutureNC - Dr. Donna Tipton-Rogers, Chair
  • School Turnaround Committee - Mr. James E. Ford, Vice Chair 

Birth - 3 Definition of High Quality Reading and K - 3 Diagnostic for the 2020-21 

Birth - 3 Reading Definition


In March 2019, the State Board of Education adopted a framework for action on early reading. 

This Framework for Action on Early Reading outlined nine key priorities to guide the Department of Public of Instruction in the development of specific steps to boost reading performance in the primary grades. 


The framework is comprised of these nine components:


  • Develop a statewide definition of high-quality reading instruction
  • 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
  • Explore a statewide system of training for teachers, principals and reading coaches on the science of reading
  • Provide flexibility in state funding to support district action on reading
  • Ensure access to high-quality pre-k and strong early learning environments and kindergarten transitions


The definition adopted on July 9, 2020 is outlined below:



A comprehensive approach to literacy encompasses reading, writing, speaking, and listening and occurs in a safe, nurturing, and culturally responsive environment. Learning to read is a continuum of knowledge skills, beginning at birth with oral language development and progressing to the development of written language skills and knowledge of the world that continues until adulthood. 


High quality reading instruction is grounded in the current science of reading regarding the acquisition of language (syntax, semantics, morphology, and pragmatics), phonological and phonemic awareness, accurate and efficient word identification and spelling, word knowledge, and comprehension. High quality reading instruction includes explicit and systematic phonics instruction, allowing all students to master letter-sound relations, and it is guided by state-adopted standards and informed by data so that instruction can be differentiated to meet the needs of individual students. Ultimately, the purpose of high quality reading instruction is to empower all children to become deep readers who have the foundational skills and word and world knowledge to read and understand increasingly complex text.


K - 3 Reading Diagnostic Decision for 2020-21


The Board approved an allotment policy and list of vendors to comply with the Read to Achieve mandate for 2020-21. Agendas for this meeting and executive summaries are available online.


The approved list of approved vendors includes:


  • Istation
  • Northwest Evaluation System (NWEA) - Measures of Academic Progress: Growth plus Reading Fluency
  •  STAR Early Literacy or STAR Reading Plus STAR Early Literacy
  • I-Ready (pending finalization of EVAAS data verification)

Board Receives Monthly Legislative Update


Attached is a comprehensive legislative update presented to the Board at its July 9 meeting from Mr. Freebird McKinney, Director of Legislative and Community Affairs.


Attachment:     July 2020 - Legislative Update

N.C. Legislative Building