To access Quick Links, visit our text-only version.

. Public Schools of North Carolina . . State Board of Education . . Department Of Public Instruction .


NEWS RELEASES 2008-09 :: JUNE 23, 2009


North Carolina has received the 21st Century Skills Practice of the Year Award for its new Writing Instruction System Pilot project. The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) developed and piloted the initiative in the fall of 2008 to replace the 4th and 7th grade writing assessments with a more comprehensive K-12 writing system. State Superintendent June Atkinson accepted the award for North Carolina at "Institute.21," an annual event held to showcase the progress states have made in infusing 21st century skills into core subject areas.

"North Carolina's new Writing Instruction System Pilot represents a major step away from traditional assessments where we prepare certain groups of students for a one-day test," said Atkinson. "The new system involves all educators, not just English and language arts teachers, working across subject areas throughout the school year. With this more flexible approach, we have more time and more opportunities to improve students' writing skills, enabling them to communicate more effectively in the real world."

The new writing system was piloted in two ways during the 2008-09 school year. As a part of the statewide pilot, all 4th and 7th grade English/language arts teachers, as well as teachers in other content specific areas, were required to participate in online professional development courses. Students in 4th and 7th grades were then required to complete two content-specific writing assignments in which teachers had the flexibility to create the assignment and assign due dates that allowed students ample time for planning, drafting, revising and submitting the final product. Students in these grades also were required to respond to two on-demand writing tasks, one in the fall and one in the spring. The NCDPI provided the prompts but did not require all students to be assessed on the same day or same time within any LEA, school or individual classroom.

In addition to these statewide efforts, students and teachers in 18 selected school districts piloted the centrally-hosted Web-based online portfolio component of the new writing system. In these districts, 7th grade students were required to complete their writing tasks using word processing software. Their writing samples were then stored in an electronic portfolio which teachers could then use to evaluate student work and provide feedback. The Web-based portfolio component of the new writing system will be available to all school districts in the state starting July 20, 2009.

"I am very proud of the initiatives that NCDPI Deputy Chief Academic Officer Angela Quick and her curriculum team are developing as a result of the State Board of Education's Framework for Change - a new vision for 21st century assessments," said NCDPI Chief Academic Officer Rebecca Garland. "The writing instruction system pilot is the precursor of a more comprehensive assessment package that will allow us to evaluate students and their ability to use real world knowledge and skills in college and the work place."

North Carolina was among seven states to receive the national award from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. This organization brings together the business community, education leaders and policymakers to define a powerful vision for 21st century education to ensure every child's success as citizens and workers in the 21st century.

For more information on the Partnership or the award, visit For more information on North Carolina's Writing Instruction System Pilot project, contact the NCDPI Communications division at 919.807.3450.

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.