NEWS RELEASES 2012-13 :: FEBRUARY 12, 2013


A group of 22 education experts will gather at Duke University this week to kick off a six-month think tank on assessing the educational needs of young children and students in the early grades. The think tank is being sponsored by State Superintendent June Atkinson and will be co-chaired by John Pruette, who directs the N.C. Department of Public Instruction's Office of Early Learning, and Duke University Center for Child and Family Policy Director Kenneth Dodge. The kick-off will be Friday, Feb. 15, at from 9:30 to 2 p.m. in room 200, Rubenstein Hall, Duke University campus.

"The early years of formal education provide us with our most optimal opportunity to lay a strong foundation for lifelong learning and productivity," said State Superintendent June Atkinson. "As education leaders, our goal is to craft the best possible methods to help students right from the start. This group will provide us with ideas we can leverage to make the most of students' early years of education."

Dodge said the new measures would help create a more complete picture of children's progress in the early grades. For individual children, information about their development and learning is critical to their future success.

"This is an opportunity to change the dynamic for teachers and children in the early grades," Dodge said. "The whole child perspective gained by this process will shape classroom instruction and school success for all children, K-3."

The panel will explore what is critical to assess within multiple domains of learning and development (e.g. emotional/social, health and physical, academics) and how these areas can be appropriately and efficiently assessed in the early grades beginning at kindergarten entry. The group's recommendations will be used to craft a formative assessment that will be used in grades K-3 across North Carolina. The goal is to create more than measurements. Instead, each child's assessment will guide daily instructional practices tailored to that child's needs.

The Think Tank roster includes child development scholars from public and private universities across the state, including Duke, UNC- Chapel Hill, N.C. State University, Meredith College and others. The early learning assessment effort was authorized by the N.C. General Assembly, and is being implemented by the state Department of Public Instruction. The effort is funded in part by a $70 million federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant that North Carolina won in 2011.

Dodge said he is excited to play a role in shaping a key new aspect of N.C. education policy.

"I really value this opportunity for collaboration with the state Department of Public Instruction," Dodge said. "We are honored to provide this service to the state."

For more information, please contact NCDPI's Communication's division, 919.807.3450. News media are asked to RSVP if they plan to attend this event due to the size of the meeting space. RSVP to Alison Jones, Communications Director, Center for Child and Family Policy, Duke University, 919.681.8504./919.451.3180,

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 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.