MESSAGES 2015 :: FEBRUARY 5, 2015

FEBRUARY 5, 2015 - Principals' Biweekly Message

The 2013-14 North Carolina School Report Cards went live today at For the first time, the Report Cards reflect School Performance Grades as required by state law. At the State Board meeting and with news media afterward, I expressed my continued support for a School Performance Grade model that provides a letter grade for both student achievement and growth as opposed to one grade that incorporates both. Growth is the most important indicator of a school’s impact on students’ learning. I encourage you when you have a moment to take a look at the 2013-14 School Performance Grade Executive Summary as it contains a number of analyses that show the influence of factors such as student poverty and teacher impact on student achievement and growth. This report is included as a link on the press release available online at under “News.”

June Atkinson

In this Biweekly Principals' Message:

  1. State Board of Education Meeting Highlights
  2. PowerSchool Upgrade
  3. 2014-15 AP/IB Exam Fee Information
  4. NCVPS and Student Contact Info
  5. Comment Now on Proposed Amendments to Policies Governing Services for Children with Disabilities, Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act-Part B
  6. Severe Weather Preparedness Week March 1-7
  7. 2015 Regional Principals of the Year Announced
  8. Feb. 1-7 is National School Counseling Week
  9. Summer Nutrition Programs Help Meet Critical Need for Students
  10. Two School Districts are Latest “Green Ribbon” Award Recipients
  11. Summer Leadership Conference 2015

State Board of Education Meeting Highlights

At this morning’s State Board meeting, members approved Teacher Observation Requirements, the 2013-14 School Performance Grades, the 2014-16 State School Technology Plan, and the Virtual Charter School Pilot recommendations. A complete list of Board actions is posted online at

PowerSchool Upgrade

Pearson will deploy PowerSchool 8.1.1 software into all NC PowerSchool instances during our next scheduled maintenance weekend, Feb. 6-8. This upgrade will entail major updates and remedies to the currently used PowerSchool application. In-depth upgrade details will be provided in the PowerSchool Release Notes.

2014-15 AP/IB Exam Fee Information

One part of the 2013 legislation, Broaden Access and Successful Participation in Advanced Courses (115C-83.4A), was to enhance access and encourage participation in AP and IB courses by appropriating funds to pay for all AP and IB exams for traditional public school and charter school students beginning in 2014-15. Procedures have been sent out to various staff in LEAs and charter schools, including LEA finance officers and curriculum and instruction leaders. No funding for AP and IB test/registration fees should be collected from students/families for this year’s exams. Please contact Sneha Shah Coltrane at for more information.

NCVPS and Student Contact Info

Please be aware that the North Carolina Virtual Public School is not yet integrated into PowerSchool. As such, it is critical for your school e-learning advisors when registering students for online courses to include all student contact information. Our teachers must have phone and email contact information for each enrolled student. If this information is not included, NCVPS teachers would have to contact your schools to retrieve that data. We would appreciate your assistance in informing your e-learning advisors of this critical need.

Comment Now on Proposed Amendments to Policies Governing Services for Children with Disabilities, Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act-Part B

The NCDPI Exceptional Children Division is accepting comments from interested persons regarding the Department’s proposed amendments to specific sections of Policies Governing Services for Children with Disabilities (Policies) pursuant to Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA).

The amendments to the North Carolina policies are available for public review and comment Feb. 4 – March 6. The amendments may be reviewed at the NCDPI Exceptional Children Division office (Education Building, Raleigh), and on the web at

Interested citizens are invited to comment on the proposed amendment to the policies. In making comments, please give the citation for the section(s) on which you are commenting (e.g., NC 1504-2.9); and provide comments in the form of statements. Comments may be submitted via email to or mailed to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, Exceptional Children Division, ATTN: Carol Ann Hudgens or Lynne Loeser, 6356 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-6356.

Severe Weather Preparedness Week March 1-7

Spring is peak tornado season in North Carolina. North Carolina Emergency Management and the National Weather Service want your school community and you to know how to be safe when severe weather threatens. The statewide tornado drill will take place on Wednesday, March 4, at 9:30 a.m. Most NOAA weather radios will NOT sound an audible alert to mark the beginning of the drill. As such, schools are encouraged to self-initiate their tornado drills at 9:30 a.m. as if an alert had been broadcast. The drill will conclude when participants complete their drill activities. No all-clear message will be issued. If this time is not convenient for your school’s instructional program, principals may reschedule the tornado drill on another day close to March 4. For more information about tornado and storm safety, go to or download the free ReadyNC mobile app.

2015 Regional Principals of the Year Announced

Congratulations to the following eight outstanding public school principals who were recently selected as regional Wells Fargo North Carolina Principals of the Year:

  • Region I: Steve Lassiter, Pactolus Elementary (Pitt County Schools);
  • Region II: Robin Hamilton, Parsley Elementary (New Hanover County Schools);
  • Region III: Tonya Williams, Sherwood Githens Middle (Durham Public Schools);
  • Region IV: Kim Robertson, Elizabeth Cashwell Elementary (Cumberland County Schools);
  • Region V: Christopher Poston, Pittsboro Elementary (Chatham County Schools);
  • Region VI: Adam Auerbach, Wolf Meadow Elementary (Carbarrus County Schools);
  • Region VII: Shane Mace, East Burke Middle (Burke County Schools); and
  • Region VIII: Scott Rhodes, East Henderson High (Henderson County Schools).

These individuals will now compete for the state title of 2015 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year. The winner, who will succeed the 2014 recipient, Carrie Tulbert, principal of Mooresville Middle (Mooresville Graded School District), will be announced May 1.

Feb. 1-7 is National School Counseling Week

This week is National School Counseling week; and the first annual White House School Counselor of the Year Award ceremony was held at the White House last Friday. Three of the semifinalists representing K-12 school counseling are from North Carolina and Wake County Public Schools: Lisbeth Fillard, Kerri Bridges and Laura Inscoe. You can view a video of the First Ladies remarks at the ceremony at The American School Counselor Association has been hosting this event for years, but this is the first time it has been recognized by and held at the White House.

Summer Nutrition Programs Help Meet Critical Need for Students

Last year in North Carolina, 826,000 students were eligible to receive free or reduced priced meals at school through the National School Lunch Program. Of that number, a mere 140,854 received meals during the summer months through the Summer Nutrition Programs. In other words, 83 percent of economically disadvantaged, school-age children may have experienced hunger during the summer months. To read more about this serious issue and what the NC Department of Public Instruction is doing to address it, please visit and look under “News.”

Two School Districts are Latest “Green Ribbon” Award Recipients

Congratulations to Cherokee County Schools and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools for recently being awarded Green Ribbons from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s Safe and Healthy Schools Support Division. These districts will now represent the state in national competition. The Green Ribbon Schools Award is the first comprehensive federal policy for schools related to environment, health and education.

Summer Leadership Conference 2015

The Summer Leadership Conference 2015 will be held June 28-July 1 at the Omni Grove Park Inn, Asheville. Conference information, including hotels and online registration, tentative agenda, and speaker bios can be found at The NCSSA Superintendents' Retreat also will be a part of the conference and will begin on Sunday, June 28. The theme this year is global education. The keynote speakers will be Pasi Sahlberg (Finnish educator and scholar), Milton Chen (Edutopia, Sesame Street, The Electric Company and 3-2-1 Contact), Rushton Hurley (Next Vista for Learning, Discovery Education), James Johnson Jr. (Urban Investment Strategies Center), and Andres Ruzo (National Geographic Explorer). There also will be a legal update, legislative update and updates from the NCDPI. A tentative agenda and keynote speaker information can be found at If you have questions, contact Jan Webster, ( or 828.418.0011, ext. 21) or Vicki Wilson, (, or 828.418.0011, ext. 22).