Sep 8, 2017
NCGA Week in Review
With legislators back in their districts for the interim, attention this
week turned to the State Board of Education (Board) meeting this Wednesday
State Board of Education September Meeting Highlights
2016-17 School Performance & Graduation Rates Released
During its monthly meeting, the Board received two reports on Thursday that
analyze the success of students & schools in the 2016-17 school year.
Highlights of the
2016-17 Performance and Growth of NC Public Schools
2017 Cohort Graduation Rate
A .6% increase in four year graduation rates since the 2015-16 school
year. The graduation rate was at 68.3% in 2006, when the state initially
began measuring cohort graduation rates, and has climbed to 86.5% over the
past ten years.
The percentage of schools which received “A+”, “A”, “B”, or “C”
performance grades increased, while the percentage of schools which
received a “D” or “F” decreased.
Performance improvements were seen in nearly every subject matter with
some stagnant results or slight dips.
Passing rates on the state’s standardized tests raised from 58.3% in the
2015-16 school year to 59.2% in the 2016-17 school year, with the most
major improvements occurring in middle school results.
Large performance gaps remain between racial and socioeconomic groups.
Charter School Transportation Grant Pilot Criteria Approved
The 2017 budget bill requires DPI to establish criteria and guidelines for
a $2.5 million grant program assisting charter schools in providing
transportation to students. On Tuesday, the Charter School Advisory Board
(CSAB) adopted a five step process for charter schools to apply. The
process requires applicants to submit a
letter of intent
for review of the CSAB along with the Office of Charter Schools. After
application approval, schools will be required to provide sufficient
documentation before received fund disbursement. The process was approved
by the Board on Thursday.
ESSA Plan Approved
On Thursday, the Board approved NC’s plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA was passed in 2015 to
replace the No Child Left Behind Act and gives states
significantly more control in determining the standards students and
schools are held to than its predecessor.
Members of the Board have been critical of the state’s
plan, through many drafts and iterations, due to its continued reliance on test
scores. The Board holds that the state should aim to innovate instead of
maintaining what they call the status quo. Gov. Roy Cooper echoed these
concerns in his
response, saying, “I believe that if it goes forward as is, the school community
and all of its stakeholders are going to feel that that is how we view
education, that it is all about high-stakes testing.” Board Chairman Bill
Cobey noted on Wednesday that DPI and the Board’s hands were tied due to
HB 770: Various Clarifying Changes, which keeps the state’s A-F school grading system while bringing it into
compliance with ESSA.
Once it is formally submitted, the plan will head to the US Department of
Education (USED) where it will be reviewed for up to 120 days. ESSA
compliance is required in order for states to receive federal funding for
public education. So far USED Secretary Betsy DeVos has approved plans from
15 other states, no plans have been denied to date.
Innovative School District Moves Forward
Enacted by the General Assembly in 2016, the Innovative School District
(ISD), formerly called the Achievement School District, is on track to
begin serving communities in the 2018-19 school year.
The purpose of the ISD is to create partnerships between chronically low
performing schools, their communities and charter management organizations
to use innovative education practices to radically change school
performance and student success rates. To qualify for the program, a school
Have a School Performance Score in the lowest 5 percent of all schools
in the prior year.
Have failed to exceed growth in at least one of the prior three school
years and did not meet growth in at least one of the prior three school
Did not adopt one of the established reform models for the immediate
prior school year.
The ISD will begin operation in the 2018-19 school year with two schools
and then will increase to a total of five schools the following school
year. Schools within the ISD will be operated by CMO/ EMOs for a minimum of
five years, with the option to extend participation by three years if
student and school outcomes are improving.
At the September Board meeting, ISD Superintendent Dr. Eric Hall presented
three new policies to the Board, all of which were approved. The approved
policies outline how qualifying schools will be selected:
Evaluation of Qualifying Schools
Determination of Qualifying Schools
Final Selection of Qualifying Schools
As the ISD implementation process moves forward, Superintendent Hall and
the Board expect that additional policy revisions will be necessary since
the ISD is a new wheelhouse for public education in the state and will
require innovative and administrative policy changes.
Additionally, the names of the
public schools were released to the Board on Thursday. In the coming
months, Superintendent Hall will work to pair two schools with qualified
CMO/ EMO operators and will seek approval of these partnerships at the
Boards December meeting.