July 2023 From the Boardroom

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From the Boardroom

JULY 2023



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.



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State Board Approves Revised K-12 Science Content Standards


Revised content standards for science approved by the State Board of Education this month call for students in all grades to spend more time applying the practices of science and engineering to acquire durable skills that they’ll carry beyond their time in K-12 education.


While the content included in the revised standards is not significantly changed from the previous science standards, last updated in 2009, the emphasis on “science and engineering practices” is a new emphasis, Charles Aiken, DPI’s section chief for mathematics, science and STEM, told the board during its meeting in June. The revision process included feedback from focus groups in each State Board region, one-on-one interviews and more than 14,000 responses to surveys. Nearly 60 different professional educators from across the state’s school districts, charter schools, and institutions of higher education helped review the response data and revise the standards.


Aiken said that the teams that developed the revised standards asked, “what do we actually want our students to be doing in the classroom,” and that the revision work during the last 13 months coincided with the agency’s Portrait of a Graduate initiative, which identified several durable skills that students should master by the time they finish high school.


science standards


“We saw a moment where those two things happened to converge,” Aiken said. “We talked about building standards that actually really engage students – not just content – but engaged them in the practices and durable skills that we know they’re going to need. What are students doing with the content.”


Aiken told the board in June that many teachers are already incorporating “science and engineering practices” in their lessons, and that the revised standards recognize such approaches to teaching and learning that teachers are using to better engage students.


As presented to the board, the revised standards incorporate these “science and engineering practices” that build durable skills:





Ask Questions and Define Problems

Asking and refining questions to clarify what is needed to test ideas about the natural world or find solutions to solve engineering problems.


Develop and Use Models

Using or constructing models to represent ideas, develop new questions and revise scientific explanations or proposed engineering systems.


Plan and Carry Out Investigations

Planning and carrying out data driven investigations through labs and field experiences in/out of the classroom working collaboratively as well as individually.


Analyze and Interpret Data

Analyzing data using tools, technologies, and/or models in order to recognize patterns and make valid and reliable scientific claims.


Use Mathematics & Computational Thinking

Using mathematics to recognize, express, and apply quantitative relationships.


Construct Explanations

Apply scientific ideas, principles, and/or evidence to explain phenomena and solve design problems.


Engage in Argument from Evidence

Listening to, comparing, and evaluating ideas and methods based on evidence.


Obtain, Evaluate, and Communicate Information

Using multiple sources of information to obtain, critique and communicate ideas visually, verbally, or in writing, both individually and in groups.


The final update of the science standards that the board approved this month were revised to include a clear reference to the well-known “scientific method,” which several board members said needed to be included during their review in June of the draft standards.


“Since the 17th century, it has been the empirical way of conducting scientific experiments,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt, noting that as a non-scientist, the scientific method was one lesson from her K-12 education that has stuck with her.


Amy White, who resigned her board seat after the June meeting, said she believed the scientific method should be taught at least in the early grades to lay a foundation for more advanced inquiry.


The introduction to the revised standards at each grade level includes this content, as approved by the board:


Engaging in science encourages students’ curiosity, interests, and prepares them for the broadest range of postsecondary opportunities, be it college, career, or military service. The 2023 K-12 Science Standards are designed to allow students to become active participants in science - building their understanding of the natural world through observations and investigations.


The scientific method provides a common framework for introducing the traditional experimental design and hypothesis-testing process. The methodologies or approaches utilized by scientists can vary depending on the nature of their research questions and available tools. Steps that all scientists follow when conducting scientific investigations usually involve asking questions, the collection and analysis of relevant data, the use of logical reasoning, opportunities to communicate and collaborate with others, and the development of explanations.


The Science and Engineering Practices (SEP) are embedded in the standards to support a greater emphasis on how students develop science knowledge and the durable skills within the NC Portrait of a Graduate. While one practice is identified in each objective, teachers should utilize other practices to support students’ progress towards mastering the standards.


During the 2023-24 school year, DPI will be working alongside leaders from districts and charters to ensure all stakeholders are aware of the new standards, have opportunities to review changes from the 2009 standards, and prepare for the new standards to be implemented beginning with the 2024-25 school year. The current 2009 science standards will remain in place for classroom instruction and assessment for the 2023-24 school year.


grant image

$6.4 Million in Grants from Title I Funds Approved for 15 Schools


The State Board of Education approved competitive grants from federal Title I funds of as much as $500,000 to 15 schools across the state identified as Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) schools in both 2018-19 and again in the fall of the 2022-23 school year.


The Innovative Partnership Grants are aimed at CSI schools that didn’t shed that status during the most recent exit year, 2022-23, and as a result, are eligible for additional support and resources, said Alex Charles, interim senior director of DPI’s Office of Federal Programs.


“With the support provided through IPG, the CSI Tier II schools will receive a more robust support system to hopefully help them overcome the barriers, with the goal of helping them exit CSI status,” Charles told the board. The funds will provide additional fiscal resources, technical support, and regular school visits to improve student achievement.


Pauletta Thompson, also with the Office of Federal Programs, explained that a total of 30 schools expressed interest initially in applying under the IPG program, with the 15 that ultimately applied all qualifying for one of the grants. The applications were reviewed independently by three individuals on an external review panel from the SERVE Center at UNC Greensboro.


The 15 schools are located in six of the eight State Board regions, Thompson said, and represent six school districts, a charter school and a lab school. Each of the schools is seeking additional support from an external partner to help improve their performance.


Z.E.C.A. School of Arts and Technology         Onslow County charter                        $323,500

Lee County Schools Bragg Street                   Academy Lee County Schools             $289,000

Central Wake High School                               Wake County Schools                          $435,250

Appalachian Academy at Middle Fork            Forsyth County lab school                   $440,500

Ashley Academy                                               Winston-Salem/Forsyth Schools          $478,429

Carver High School                                          Winston-Salem/Forsyth Schools          $487,969

Forest Park Elementary                                   Winston-Salem/Forsyth Schools          $428,948

Kimberly Park Elementary                               Winston-Salem/Forsyth Schools          $428,948

Mineral Springs Middle School                       Winston-Salem/Forsyth Schools          $494,919

Philo-Hill Magnet Academy                             Winston-Salem/Forsyth Schools          $487,429

Henderson Independent High School             Rowan-Salisbury Schools                    $500,000

North Rowan Elementary                                 Rowan-Salisbury Schools                    $500,000

North Rowan Middle School                            Rowan-Salisbury Schools                    $500,000

Gateway School                                                Caldwell County Schools                     $303,250

Union Academy                                                 Macon County Schools                       $340,000

Fruits and Vegetables

Board Approves $6.1 million in USDA Grants for Fresh Fruit and Vegetables


Students in more than elementary schools across the state will benefit from fresh fruit and vegetables served as snacks during the school day with the State Board’s approval this month of the allocation of $6.1 million in USDA funds for the annual Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Program.


Lynn Harvey, senior director of district operations and school nutrition for DPI, said that while schools with the highest percentage of economically disadvantaged students are funded first, all schools that applied for the program were awarded grants.


“We continue to be pleased by the direction that this program takes,” Harvey told the board.


The schools participating in the program during the 2023-24 school year represent 34 districts and one charter school, she said.

parental leave

Teachers, Other School Employees Now Eligible for Paid Parental Leave, Board Told


State Board members reviewed new rules this month outlining paid parental leave to which all state employees – including teachers and other school staff – are now entitled under state law enacted earlier this year.


The State Human Resources Commission is required under the law to adopt rules and policies, and the State Board of Education to do the same, providing that permanent, full-time state employees may take the following paid parental leave: up to eight weeks after giving birth to a child; up to four weeks after other qualifying events such as paternity leave, adoption, fostering a child or becoming a legal guardian.


The leave entitlement extends to the parent of a newborn biological child; a newly placed adopted child; a newly-place foster child; or a child under the age of 18 otherwise legally placed with the parent, such as through guardianship.


Paid leave will also be available to part-time employees, on a pro-rated basis.


School employees previously could take 12 weeks of parental leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), but without a provision for pay, they needed to use accrued personal or sick leave during their time away from work.


“This is a huge boon to employees,” said Allison Schafer, the board’s general counsel, “but it’s also allowing state funds to be continued to be paid.”


The law also allocates $10 million in state funds annually to cover the costs of substitute teacher pay for teachers using paid parental leave.


Charter schools are not required under the law to provide their employees with the parental leave benefit, but may opt into the leave provision, allowing them to share the allocation for substitute pay.


Schafer told the board that while the law became effective July 1, the board’s rules still need to be finalized before they’re brought back for a vote at the board’s August meeting.


“There are a lot of unanswered questions, and we’re still working through those,” Schafer said, “and we will have to deal with those on-by-one. What we have before you doesn’t cover every possible scenario.”