MESSAGES 2014 :: OCTOBER 31, 2014

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Message from State Supt. Atkinson: Follow up to regional meetings

Dear Superintendents:

Thank you for the opportunity to meet with all of you. Below is the information you requested during my recent round of meetings in your regions. I appreciate your feedback and suggestions as we all work to improve education for North Carolina students. At several of the meetings, you requested information about the items listed below.

Contact Lists
See the FAQ Staff Contacts attachment above for some guidance as to DPI people to call when you have questions about specific topics. We also provide a complete staff directory on the front of our website at For questions concerning financial and business services, go to

NC Final Exam Information
Our website provides detailed specification documents concerning the NC Final Exams. These provide details about the structure, purpose and administration of the exams. All 2014-15 assessment specification documents are complete and posted with the exception of Social Studies Grades 4 and 5, which will be posted in mid- to late November. Specification documents for the NC Final Exams of English I, English III, English IV, Grades 6-8 Social Studies, World History, American History I, American History II, Civics and Economics, U.S. History, Grades 4, 6, & 7 Science, Physical Science, Physics, Chemistry, and Earth and Environmental Science are now available at See the attached pdf labeled ncfeelaspecs14 for an example of such a document for English Language Arts.

Standard 6 Clarification for Non-Tested Areas
You asked whether teachers in the same school district could use different means to arrive at their student growth scores to populate Standard 6 in teacher evaluations, with some using Analysis of Student Work and others choosing schoolwide growth data. Our current ESEA stipulates that teachers within the same discipline must choose the same process for student growth. We may have some leeway so that high school art teachers might choose ASW and elementary art teachers may use schoolwide data, but the decision must be consistent across the LEA. A major purpose is to determine if there is equitable distribution of teachers. If job-alike teachers across the system use different measures, there is no way to compare performance. This year's Analysis of Student Work is a statewide pilot so that we can pressure test the system. If the decision is to apply for another ESEA waiver beyond June 2015, we may be able to get approved a different approach. Currently, each school district has the flexibility to create its own approach to determining student growth for the non-tested areas. Any approach must be approved by the State Board of Education and be reliable and valid.

Community College Placement
Effective for entering students in January 2015, the NC Community College system has changed its placement test requirements . The new policy replaces use of placement tests to determine whether students must take remedial courses with a multiple measures policy that allows students to enroll in credit-bearing courses if they have completed four high school math courses that include Math III/Algebra II and have an un-weighted Grade Point Average of at least 2.6. The multiple measures policy is attached. The policy change is based on recent research showing that factors such as GPA and math completion level are more accurate indicators of potential college success than placement tests alone.

Thank you again for meeting with me, and please let me know if you need additional information. June St. Clair Atkinson

FAQ Staff Contacts
(doc, 168kb)

Multiple Measures Final policy
(doc, 50kb)

(pdf, 126kb)