MESSAGES 2014 :: SEPTEMBER 2, 2014


Weekly Message for Superintendents: Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014

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On Thursday morning, the State Board of Education will hear a report providing the data showing how students performed in the 2013-14 school year. This year, the report will show the percentage of students at each of the five achievement levels, whether each school met its growth standard, graduation rates and performance on The ACT and the ACT WorkKeys. School performance grades (A-F) will be available in February when the School Report Cards are provided for each school. You should have your local data already, and we will share state comparison information with you and your communication director via a separate email on Wednesday morning to assist you in finalizing your own communication plan for this information. Please remember the information we share with you is embargoed until the State Board receives the report on Thursday, Sept. 4.

June Atkinson
State Superintendent

August 28, 2014
(doc, 90kb)

Aug. 28 NCDPI Web Highlights
(pdf, 99kb)

In this Weekly Superintendents' Message:

  1. Send Comments Now on 10-Point Grading Scale
  2. State Board of Education Meets this Week
  3. Setting Cut Points for Local Alternative Assessments
  4. Read to Achieve Data Reminder
  5. Meeting Scheduled to Gain Input on Possible Changes to Dropout Identification
  6. Schematic Diagrams of School Building
  7. Learning Opportunity for Principals: Observation Calibration Training
  8. Principal READY Support Sessions Resume This Fall
  9. The NC Charter Schools Advisory Board to Meet
  10. STEM Education: Real-World Applications in Manufacturing
  11. Finance Officers' Newsletter Online
  12. Register Now for Exceptional Children Conference
  13. School Bus Safety Poster Contest Winners Announced

Send Comments Now on 10-Point Grading Scale

You still have a small window to share your comments regarding proposed changes to the 10-point grading scale. An email was sent to you on Aug. 13 requesting your input to a 10-point scale with NO plus/minus option. Currently around 15 percent of districts include the plus/minus option. The Board will be discussing this issue at their meeting this week. For your comments to be considered, you will need to send those to Rebecca Garland ( by EOB today, Sept. 2.

State Board of Education Meets this Week

The State Board of Education will meet this Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 3-4, in Raleigh. Board action items include the Cohort Graduation Rate for 2013-14 and release of the 2013-14 End-of-Grade, End-of-Course, The ACT, and The ACT WorkKeys results, Math Course Rigor and Annual Measurable Objectives, which all occurs on Thursday; Local Boards of Education Waiver Requests to Expand the Testing Window for One Year, State Board approval process for Local Alternative Portfolios for Read to Achieve, beginning of Grade 3 English Language Arts/Reading Academic Achievement Levels and Virtual Charter School Pilot Program Application, Timeline and Process. Board discussion items include Read to Achieve local alternative assessments, proposed revision to grading scale, Career and Technical Education revisions to Essential Standards, local options for measuring student growth, and process for assumption of inadequately performing charter schools. The complete agenda as well as supporting executive summaries are available online at

Setting Cut Points for Local Alternative Assessments

At the State Board of Education meeting this week, staff will present information on the local alternative assessments for Read to Achieve. As required by HB 230, the State Board of Education must establish achievement levels and review these assessments annually for relevance, validity and reliability. The item is for discussion this month, with action slated for October.

Read to Achieve Data Reminder

Superintendents are reminded that per Read to Achieve legislation, the following data was to be submitted to the State Board of Education (attn: Carolyn Guthrie at and displayed on district websites by Sept. 1:

  • number and percentage of students demonstrating proficiency on the BOG, EOG, or EOG retest;
  • number and percentage of students not demonstrating proficiency on the BOG, EOG or EOG retest;
  • number and percentage of students exempt for Good Cause;
  • number and percentage of students who took and passed an alternative test (RtA alternative or local);
  • number and percentage of students retained (includes all students who are non-proficient on third grade standards that did not receive a Good Cause); and
  • charters only - number and percentage of retained students not returning to the charter school.

Accountability has provided a form on TNN with numbers populated for each district. If you have any questions, please email Carolyn Guthrie at

Meeting Scheduled to Gain Input on Possible Changes to Dropout Identification

The North Carolina State Board of Education is reviewing a policy amendment that would alter the manner in which dropouts are identified and counted. Currently, North Carolina students who leave the public school system and enter an Adult High School Diploma program must be withdrawn using a code that identifies them as dropouts. Consideration is being given to allow school districts to instead use a different code and count these students as transfers. On Wednesday, Sept. 17, NCDPI staff have scheduled an input session for local school and district staff to review the proposed revision. The session will include whole and small group discussions to review the current policy and discuss implications for revision and implementation. To register, email your name, school/district or organization, and role to Debora Williams ( by 5 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 3. Place "DPI Input Session" in the subject line. Space is limited! An agenda will be forwarded to confirmed registrants.

Schematic Diagrams of School Building

District superintendents are reminded that S.L. 2014-100, Section 8.20.(b) requires all districts to provide digital schematic diagrams of all school buildings to local law enforcement agencies by June 1, 2015. Districts that have computer-drafted (CADD) drawings, or can obtain such files, may utilize the guidelines described in the publication "Safe Schools Facilities Planner," (pages 33-39) at on the School Planning website. Districts without access to CADD files should prepare PDF files of their drawings of school buildings, utilizing the above-noted guidelines to the extent possible. For further information, contact Jonathan Jones at or 919.807.3556.

Learning Opportunity for Principals: Observation Calibration Training

NCDPI staff are committed to providing high quality professional development to school leaders to support their ability to offer effective guidance to teachers. To address this goal, the department is piloting Observation Calibration Training (OCT) for school administrators across North Carolina. Observation Engine is an online tool that uses classroom videos as a context for increasing the consistency and accuracy of an evaluator's ratings. Through this tool, principals and assistant principals watch classroom videos, observe instruction, and rate teachers using the North Carolina Educator Evaluation System (NCEES) rubric. Each video has a predetermined master score based on the NCEES rubric so that participants can receive immediate feedback to help the rater understand the evidences that support the most appropriate rating so that the participant can develop skills in applying the rubric and rating consistently. In an effort to provide the most effective experience, we are looking for LEAs to participate in a pilot using Observation Engine to access the Observation Calibration Training tool. School leaders who participate in the pilot will access observer calibration resources and events to practice rating in order to increase rater agreement and promote consistent application of the North Carolina Educator Evaluation System. The OCT pilot will kick-off the first week of November. If your LEA is interested in participating in the pilot, please email Kimberly Simmons at

Principal READY Support Sessions Resume This Fall

We are excited to announce the 2014-15 Principal READY sessions for this fall in each region. Building on the foundation we established during fall and spring of 2013-14, Principal READY will focus on instructional leadership to help the principal support teachers. Participants will collaboratively explore curriculum tools and resources that will help their teachers improve content knowledge and instructional skills, with a specific focus on mathematics. These meetings and supporting resources are part of the state's READY work, with Principal READY providing a unique opportunity for administrators to work in groups, discussing the standards and classroom observations. Principals will collaborate with colleagues and DPI staff to support instructional capacity through a strong, consistent implementation of the North Carolina Educator Evaluation System. Link to the Principal READY wiki page at to see the statewide schedule.

The NC Charter Schools Advisory Board to Meet

The North Carolina Charter Schools Advisory Board (CSAB) will meet Monday, Sept. 8, from 8:30 a.m. – 2:45 p.m., in the 7th Floor Board Room, Education Building, Raleigh. Tentative agenda items include adjournment to subcommittees where members will discuss policy and performance issues, nomination of the 2014-15 CSAB vice chair, charter school bid process, a report from the 2014 Charter School Teacher of the Year, update on charter school applications, and Board duties and processes. The meeting will be audio streamed for those who cannot attend. To listen, click on the Live Audio Stream link at

STEM Education: Real-World Applications in Manufacturing

On Oct. 3, North Carolina manufacturers across the state will open their doors to schools and communities to discuss what they make and demonstrate how they make it. By participating in this event, students can see how STEM-related curriculum translates into practical, real-world contexts. A flyer containing event details is available online at To locate participating manufacturers visit

Finance Officers' Newsletter Online

The Aug. 29 edition of the Finance Officers' newsletter is online and contains the following items: Voluntary Shared Leave Submission, Allotment Section-ABC Transfers and Flexibility, Report on the Utilization of Personnel Contracts, and 3rd Annual Foreign National Taxation and Immigration Compliance Conference. To read more, please go to the NCDPI's Financial and Business Services Web site at and click on Resources, then Newsletters.

Register Now for Exceptional Children Conference

NCDPI's Exceptional Children Division will hold its 64th Conference on Exceptional Children on Nov. 3-5 at the Koury Convention Center/Sheraton Greensboro Hotel at Four Seasons, Greensboro. This event is the singular opportunity each year for more than 3,000 special education and regular education teachers, administrators, parents, related service providers, university personnel and others to convene, collaborate and explore issues and promising practices for educating children with disabilities in North Carolina public schools. For additional information including online registration please visit

School Bus Safety Poster Contest Winners Announced

Congratulations to the following students who recently received top honors in North Carolina's 2014 National School Bus Safety Week Poster Contest, "Be Smart – Be Seen, I Wait in a Safe Place!"

  • Grades K-2 – Sara Maw, Franklinton Elementary (Franklin County Schools)
  • Grades 3-5 – Sydney Steelman, Morgan Elementary (Rowan-Salisbury Schools)
  • Grades 6-8 – Grissel Hernandez, Southeast Middle (Rowan-Salisbury Schools)
  • Special Education – Leonard Johnson, Liberty Middle (Burke County Schools)

Each of the first place winners will receive a plaque featuring his or her artwork and a school bus safety puzzle, also featuring the student's winning poster. Winning posters will be featured on the state's School Bus Safety website,, under "New to Web Site." First place winners also will compete in the National School Bus Safety Poster Contest.