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NEWS RELEASES 1996-97 :: MARCH 17, 1997


The same day President Bill Clinton was in town addressing the State Legislature on the need for high national standards for schools, the North Carolina State Board of Education took action on the same issue. The Board Thursday (March 13) unanimously approved a high school accountability model that goes in effect for the 1997-98 school year as the next phase of the statewide reform initiative called The ABCs of Public Education. Accountability and high standards are among its cornerstones.

The Board-approved ABCs plan aims to hold schools more accountable for student learning; to emphasize the basics of reading, writing and mathematics; and to promote more local control of educational decision making. The first phase of the plan, which applies to grades K-8, went into effect this school year.

Board approval of high school measures to determine a school's success follows a year of work to develop the model. Additionally, more than 1,000 people offered input in a series of statewide meetings headed by the State Board's Steering Committee for Assessment and Accountability. That group represented a cross-section of educators and received ideas from high school principals, local superintendents, high school teachers and others.

State Associate Superintendent for Instructional and Accountability Services Henry Johnson, who chaired the Steering Committee, called the model the result of the best thinking of many educators in North Carolina.

"This model is the best that educators in North Carolina could assemble to meet the requirements of the law and to be fair at this time," Dr. Johnson said. "We fully anticipate that the plan will continue to be refined over the years." In fact, even in its final form approved Thursday, it contains two measures that will be implemented a year after its startup.

The high school model, like its elementary/middle grades counterpart, will, for the first time, measure a school against its own past performance, instead of against a statewide average, or one school district against another. Under it, a school is assigned a growth standard based on past performance. Schools that significantly exceed that standard receive incentive money for their staffs. Those that are low-performing and fail to show growth could undergo intervention by an assistance team assigned by the state. This would affect only the very lowest performing schools.

The following are the high school measurement components for 1997-98:

  • Performance on the five currently mandated end-of-course (EOC) tests: Algebra I; English I; Biology; Economic/Legal/Political Systems (ELPS); and U.S. History. An EOC index of course-by-course results comparing one year to the average of the previous two years will be used;
  • Results on a high school writing test, the current English II test, using a common prompt and allowing students 100 minutes to write their responses. An EOC index and procedure will be used;
  • Year-to-year comparison of percentages of students completing College Prep or College Tech Prep course of study;
  • Results on a comprehensive test in reading and mathematics given in 10th grade to measure growth since eighth grade.
  • SAT scores and participation rates for the last three years will be reported but not included in the school's composite score for whether or not it met its ABCs standards.

The following components will be added to the above for 1998-99:

  • A component that addresses passing rates on the high school competency tests;
  • Dropout rates, grades 9-12, with some adjustment for enforcing the Safe Schools Act and addressing students with chronic behavior problems.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.