OVER 1.5 MILLION STUDENTS HEAD TO SCHOOL IN NORTH CAROLINA
For the vast majority of public school students, today is the first day of a brand new school year. One change students, parents and teachers will notice is that some classrooms will be a little more crowded. For the first time, North Carolina's student enrollment is projected to exceed 1.5 million students.
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction projects an additional 17,192 students will attend the state's public schools this year. Due to increases in teacher/student ratios, students and parents can expect larger class sizes.
State Superintendent June Atkinson said the increase in students would continue to present challenges for educators. "Although resources to support teachers and students remain limited, I have great confidence that our teachers will continue to do their best to meet the academic needs of their students."
Instructionally, the landscape remains similar to the previous school year as educators continue with the state's revised Standard Course of Study, which contains Common Core State Standards in mathematics and English language arts and Essential State Standards in all other subject/course areas. However, there are some changes in the state's public schools, including:
Home Base. This suite of technology tools rolls out this school year and features an instructional improvement system (IIS) and a new student information system (SIS) for teachers, students, parents and administrators. Teachers will be able to use Home Base to access student data, and teaching and learning resources. Students will be able to access their schoolwork, grades and learning activities. Parents will be able to view their child's attendance and progress, and administrators can monitor data on students, teachers and schools.
The new Home Base student information system, PowerSchool, replaces an outdated, decades-old system and has updated security features. The old student information system was not current or sensitive to the contemporary needs of teachers, students and parents. As with any new system, there is expected to be a learning curve, but the Home Base system will be very positive for teachers, students and parents.
Charter Schools. An additional 22 public charter schools are opening their doors for students in 2013-14, bringing the state's total number of operational charter schools to 128.
READY Accountability Model. At the State Board of Education's October meeting, staff will present school/student performance results under the state's READY accountability model for the first time. These results include the new end-of-grade assessments in grades 3-8 in mathematics and in English language arts/Reading, in grades 5 and 8 in science, and end-of-course assessments in English II, Math I and Biology at the high school level. Also, the high school accountability model will include the percentage of 11th grade students who score 17 or above (UNC system's minimum composite score requirement) on the ACT, the percent of graduates who are Career Technical Education completers and achieve a silver certificate or above on the ACT WorkKeys, and the percent of graduates who successfully complete Math III. These components are in addition to each high school's cohort graduation rate.
Reading Proficiency. An increased emphasis on reading proficiency requires third grade students to demonstrate reading proficiency by the end of the school year. Options to achieve proficiency will be offered to those students who do not meet this standard.
Atkinson said that she knows educators and students are strong enough to thrive in the face of new challenges in 2013-14. "This past school year, our North Carolina educational family did remarkable work. We transitioned to a new Standard Course of Study, worked with a new evaluation system, administered new assessments aligned to new standards, and reached a record-high graduation rate," she said. "This year, resources are fewer and challenges are bigger. For the sake of North Carolina's children, we must continue to be steadfast, determined and resilient."
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.