Public Schools of North Carolina
July 12, 2012
Federal Report Commends NC's Race to the Top Initiative
Carolina is making great strides as the state approaches the
halfway mark of its four year Race to the Top implementation.
A recent federal report commends the state for its strong support
of schools as they prepare for both new instructional standards
that will better prepare students and the new assessments that
will better measure what students know and are able to do.
U.S. Department of Education's (USED) Race to the Top North
Carolina Progress Report, Winter/Spring Year 2 recognizes the
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) for
its extensive work to help schools across the state make a smooth
transition to the new Common Core State Standards and NC Essential
Standards. The new standards go into effect in all North Carolina
public schools beginning this school year. The goal of these
updated standards is to provide students with deeper levels
of understanding in core subject areas.
report comes during Year 2 of the four-year federal grant, which
has bolstered the state's efforts to help every student graduate
prepared for career and college options, and for life. Intended
as an informal, interim report to provide North Carolina officials
with feedback regarding their performance, the Progress Report
follows an April 2012 onsite visit by USED and is based primarily
on information from that visit and monthly progress updates
that NCDPI has provided to USED since fall of 2010 (all available
on NCDPI's website). While the report notes reasonable concerns
- many shared by state education leaders - about the challenges
involved in large-scale education remodeling efforts, the overwhelming
message of the report is that North Carolina is on-track and
is delivering good quality.
are pleased with the USED Race to the Top report, which affirms
the great work that the NC Department of Public Instruction
and educators across the state are doing to prepare our schools
for implementation of these very important new standards and
assessments," said State Superintendent June Atkinson.
"This report underscores our commitment to ensuring that
more and more students across the state will not only graduate
from high school, but will also be well prepared to succeed
in their educational and career pursuits."
the efforts highlighted in the report, USED officials note NCDPI's
well-received, wide-reaching professional development for teachers,
principals and other school administrators. In 2011, NCDPI hosted
regionally-based Summer Institutes for local leadership teams
from every local school district and any charter school that
wished to attend (a second series of institutes is being held
this summer). This core group of about 2,300 educators will
lead efforts in their respective locales to ensure that every
teacher is prepared to help students meet the new standards.
addition to Summer Institutes, state officials have been providing
regionally-based professional development check-ins throughout
2011-12 for each local curriculum team to help ensure that they
have strong plans for preparing all their teachers. NCDPI has
also created many online professional development modules and
instructional resources for local teams and individual teachers
to use at their convenience.
USED report also highlights NCDPI's largest communications outreach
effort in 17 years - a series of meetings to inform educators
about the remodeling efforts (collectively known as the "READY"
initiative) under way across the state. This remodeling, which
was in motion before the Race to the Top grant, has been accelerated
thanks to the federal funds and includes the new standards and
assessments, an updated school accountability system, and a
statewide educator evaluation system. The READY meetings targeted
every principal in the state, each of whom was invited to bring
a teacher. Many district superintendents and communications
directors also attended.
2011 Summer Institutes, READY meetings, online modules, and
ongoing communications, the State has worked to build educator
and stakeholder support and understanding of the new standards
as well as the belief that the new standards will improve student
outcomes," stated the report.
addition to the standards and assessments, and related professional
development and communications, the USED report also notes the
state's progress in moving from the planning to the development
phase of a statewide technology tool known as the Instructional
Improvement System (IIS). The IIS will provide online portals
that students, teachers, parents, and school and district administrators
will use to access data and resources to inform decision-making
related to instruction, assessment, and career and college goals.
Positive steps that NCDPI is taking to enhance the statewide
Educator Evaluation System by adding a new component based on
student outcome data. NCDPI is working with Cary's SAS Institute
to incorporate a student growth measure that will contribute
to each teacher's and principal's effectiveness rating.
Great strides made in supporting struggling schools and districts.
NCDPI's District and School Transformation division provides
teams of master educators to coach staff in the districts and
schools performing in the lowest 5 percent of all schools statewide.
Many of the schools and districts with whom NCDPI has been working
are now reporting higher graduation rates and higher levels
of student performance.