MESSAGES 2014 :: JULY 14, 2014

JULY 14, 2014

Weekly Message for Superintendents: Monday, Jul. 14, 2014

There are many positive steps being taken right now to support digital learning in North Carolina's public schools. Not only have 84 school districts and 25 charters taken the important step to opt in to all of the Home Base software applications, but on Friday, North Carolina received word of the Federal Communication Commission's E-Rate order, which will move more North Carolina classrooms forward with wireless Internet access. The E-Rate order will advance our goals of providing customized education for students and of making digital learning resources available to all students and teachers.

As your year-round schools get well underway and as you prepare for the 2014-15 school year, please ensure that teachers and principals know that the current Standard Course of Study, including the Common Core State Standards for English language arts and mathematics, continue to be the standards guiding instruction in the 2014-15 school year. There are no content standard changes for the upcoming school year.

I look forward to seeing you at the superintendents' meeting on July 24.

June Atkinson
State Superintendent

2014-15 PLTW Launch Brochure
(pdf, 2.8mb)

July 11 HB Biweekly Update
(pdf, 304kb)

New State Board Education Districts
(doc, 36kb)

(pdf, 447kb)

In this Weekly Superintendents' Message:

  1. State Board of Education Meeting Highlights
  2. Prosperity Zones Aligned with Education Districts
  3. NC Digital Learning Plan
  4. 2014 Summer Institutes
  5. Governor's Teacher Network Underway
  6. Governor's School in Full Swing
  7. NC Governor's School Board of Governors to Meet
  8. Superintendents Shout Out
  9. Finance Officers' Newsletters Online
  10. Project Lead the Way (PLTW) to be Launched at the K-5 Level
  11. Exceptional Children Division Summer Institutes
  12. NCVPS Hosts Virtual Open House
  13. NCDPI's YouTube Site Hosts Race to the Top Videos

State Board of Education Meeting Highlights

Among the items approved at last Thursday's State Board of Education meeting were Academic Standards and Achievement Level Descriptors for end-of-grade assessments in ELA/Reading and Math at Grades 3-8, beginning-of-grade ELA/Reading, end-of-grade Science Grades 5 and 8, and Read to Achieve Test Grade 3; local options for middle school Career and Technical Education assessments; proposed qualifying Praxis II test scores; and Charter School Advisory Board recommendation on application content. For a complete list of Board actions, visit

Prosperity Zones Aligned with Education Districts

House Bill 1031 (SL2014-18) established eight Collaboration for Prosperity zones for North Carolina and aligned the state's education districts with those zones. The intent of this alignment is to establish and enhance collaboration between public schools, the economic development regions and other state government agencies to enhance planning, use of resources and efficiency. The legislation shifts 17 counties into different education districts. The attached document shows the counties that comprise the eight districts under the new law. No later than Jan. 1, 2015, the law requires that the State Board of Education designate at least one representative from a local school administrative unit or from the Department of Public Instruction to serve as a liaison in each Collaboration for Prosperity Zone for the local school administrative units and other public schools within the zone.

NC Digital Learning Plan

The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at NC State University recently received a contract to work with the NCDPI, the State Board of Education, policymakers, educators, business leaders and other stakeholders to develop the North Carolina Digital Learning Plan. To begin the planning process, the Friday Institute has just released a Policy Brief that sets the stage for the overall effort to guide North Carolina in providing the personalized digital-age education K-12 students need to be successful in college, in careers and as productive citizens.

The Policy Brief, future deliverables and other information relevant to the NC Digital Learning Plan will be available at Inquiries and recommendations about the plan can be submitted to the Friday Institute by email to If you would like to provide recommendations or indicate interest in participating on a working group, please complete the following brief surveys

  1. Digital Learning Plan Information Gathering –
  2. Working Group Interest Form –

2014 Summer Institutes

Summer Institutes 2014 were held July 7-11 in all eight regions of the state. Each institute featured sessions created and presented by districts and charters. Superintendents led several sessions. These "Implementation Innovation" sessions included authentic practices from the field that have proven to be successful in moving districts or charters forward in building local leadership capacity. The overarching goal of Summer Institutes 2014 included connecting educators across the state with meaningful professional development around best practices. Implementation topics included analyzing data, curriculum content, instructional practices for student differentiation, Home Base resources for classroom instruction, and local professional development planning time for the year. This institute series launches the yearly professional development calendar in partnership with our RESAs.

Governor's Teacher Network Underway

The Governor's Teacher Network (GTN) launch was held June 30 - July 1 for the selected 450 teachers from eight NC regions. The GTN teachers represent a variety of grade levels and subject areas, and the content they create will be available to all NC teachers in Home Base. This initiative is a Race to the Top (RttT) partnership between the Governor's Office and the NCDPI. Over the course of the next year, these teachers will develop resources in one of two pathways. Through the Professional Development pathway work, participants will identify a problem of practice, engage in action research to address the issue, find strategies and solutions, and share their findings through a combination of face-to-face professional development sessions and online professional development modules. Concurrently, through the Instructional Resources pathway work, participants will create resources, which could include instructional units, lesson plans, activities and assessment items. During the two-day event, the GTN teachers participated in training sessions facilitated by NCDPI staff. Teachers networked with colleagues and began their project work. Superintendent Atkinson and Governor Pat McCrory congratulated the group and acknowledged the sustained contributions they would make for teaching and learning across our state, stating these resources would be "created by teachers in North Carolina for teachers in North Carolina."

Governor's School in Full Swing

The 52nd annual session of the North Carolina Governor's School is in full swing with 650 of our state's brightest and most talented high school students attending this unique summer residential enrichment program, the oldest and most comprehensive program of its kind in the country. This year's session began on Sunday, June 15, and continues through Wednesday, July 23. More than 110 public school systems and numerous public charter schools and non-public schools have sent students to one or both campuses: Governor's School East at Meredith College (Raleigh) and Governor's School West at Salem College (Winston-Salem). Superintendents are to be congratulated for nominating such a strong selection of students, as Governor's School faculty and staff report this to be a particularly good summer. Please visit the Governor's School website ( for lists of attending students, links to campus calendars and more. Over the next 10 days there will be concerts, performances and exhibits from students in each of our academic and performing/visual arts disciplines and many are free and open to the public. Please consider visiting and getting inspired by some of our state's next generation of leaders.

NC Governor's School Board of Governors to Meet

The North Carolina Governor's School Board of Governors will meet on Wednesday, July 16, from 10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m., in the Oak Room, Belk Dining Hall, Meredith College, 3800 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh. Agenda items include 2014 Governor's School Student Selections and a Session Overview, 2015 Governor's School Eligibility Requirements, and Alumni Association and Foundation Reports.

Superintendents Shout Out

With all the changes over the past 12 months (particularly in July) in the superintendent position, it is worth noting that out of the state's 115 local school superintendents, only six have served in their LEA for more than eight years:

  • Sue Burgess, Dare – 2000
  • Anne Garrett, Haywood – 2004
  • Ron Wilcox, Madison – 2000
  • Bill Miller, Polk – 2004
  • Ray Spain, Warren – 2003
  • Steve Taylor, Wayne – 2000

Finance Officers' Newsletters Online

The July 3 and July 11 editions of the Finance Officers' newsletters are online and contain the following items: Public School Building Capital Fund (Lottery) (LEAs only), The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, FY 2014 – 13th Month MFR File – Reminder (LEAs), and FBS Summer Conference (July 3 edition); FY 2014 – 13th Month MFR File – Reminder (LEAs), Annual Transportation Report, and Web News (July 11 edition). To read more, please go to the NCDPI's Financial and Business Services Web site at and click on Resources, then Newsletters.

Project Lead the Way (PLTW) to be Launched at the K-5 Level

The new PLTW K-5 STEM program will be launched this school year. The first two modules for each grade level (K-5) were piloted in more than 40 elementary schools across the nation this past year. One of the pilot schools was Roebuck Elementary in Spartanburg, SC. Spartanburg Superintendent Dr. Owens released a You Tube video about the success of the program ( PLTW also has released a You Tube video that provides an overview of the program at

Duke University has scheduled lead teacher training for PLTW launch on Sept. 5-7. Only one lead teacher for each school is required to attend the 2-1Ž2 day training. The lead teacher can train all other teachers in their school using the learning management system (Canvas) at no cost. This will give schools the flexibility to provide professional development for every teacher in the school early in the year before introducing the modules.

Attached are a brochure on PLTW and a FAQ on the launch. If you have any questions, please contact Ken Verburg, director of School Engagement, East Region, at or 843.312.2668.

Exceptional Children Division Summer Institutes

NCDPI's Exceptional Children Division hosts the EC Summer Institutes each year to provide opportunities for teachers and administrators to access high quality, affordable professional development for teacher renewal credit while networking with colleagues from across the state. This year 50 sessions will be offered on an array of topics in a variety of locations. The majority of these will be held at UNC-Greensboro's Elliott Student Center the week of July 28 – Aug. 1. Details including session choices, registration, and hotel information are online at Hotels will fill quickly as we anticipate there will be approximately 2,200 participants during that week. For more information, please contact Paula Crawford at or 919.807.3993.

NCVPS Hosts Virtual Open House

Please join the North Carolina Virtual Public School for our Virtual Open House! This online event will be held on July 30 from 6-7 pm and is open to parents, students, educators and others interested in online learning. Join us to learn about NCVPS courses, meet with teachers and students, hear about support initiatives, and get all your questions answered about teaching and learning with NCVPS! To register, please visit If you have questions, please contact Mia Murphy at or 919.513.8550.

NCDPI's YouTube Site Hosts Race to the Top Videos

Have you visited the NCDPI's YouTube site lately? If you haven't, you may want to as this site contains eight of the 20 or so videos DPI staff are in the midst of producing to show how Race to the Top funded scopes of work — including Home Base — are looking in classrooms across the state. There is good stuff here, and a testament to the hard work of this agency and our colleagues in the field! More videos will be added throughout the month of July. Visit to check it out!