MESSAGES 2015 :: July 10, 2015

July 10, 2015 - Principals' Biweekly Message

The State Board of Education approved a new safety practice for students boarding school buses. The new process – to go into effect statewide in January 2016 – uses hand signals between the bus driver and students to signal when it is safe to board the bus. While I wish this new practice was not necessary, in the 2014-15 academic year alone, five North Carolina students were injured by motorists passing stopped school buses. Our hope is that the new procedure will help prevent such injuries.

Drawing from national procedures as well as school bus safety standards and practices from across the country, the revised policy will require drivers to use a standard hand signal that tells students a roadway is safe to cross. The hand signal has three steps. First, the driver holds up his or her palm facing the student until it is safe to cross. Second, the driver gives a “thumbs up” to the students. For the third step, the driver points with his or her index finger the direction in which the child should proceed across the street. This will empower the driver, usually the single school system employee on the scene, and it will compel students to consciously assess the roadway by looking at their bus driver before stepping into an active street. For a graphic presentation of this new signal, visit

I hope you and your school bus drivers will embrace this change as one more opportunity to help all students stay safe when traveling to and from school.

June Atkinson

In this Biweekly Principals' Message:

  1. State Board of Education Meeting Highlights
  2. NC Proficiency Standards Among the Highest in the Nation
  3. NC Education Evaluation System Training I Refresher Webinars
  4. Educator Effectiveness Offers New Self-Paced Online Modules
  5. NC Students Immersed in 2015 Governor’s School Session
  6. More Than Half a Million Books Collected for Give Five – Read Five

State Board of Education Meeting Highlights

State Board members held their July meeting via conference call yesterday and approved a new standard hand signal bus drivers will be required to use (starting Jan. 1, 2016) to tell students when a street is safe to cross (press release online at under News). Members also approved Career and Technical Education licensure requirements, the NCDPI Proof of Concept study and field testing in special studies for the 2015-16 school year. Board members also accepted a number of reports including the Advisory Councils for the Residential Schools Annual Report, the Task Force on Summative Assessment Final Report and Recommendations and reports to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee on public school procurement of information technology and assessments. For a complete list of Board actions, visit

NC Proficiency Standards Among the Highest in the Nation

North Carolina’s proficiency standards on its state-developed end-of-grade tests are among the most challenging in the nation and rate well when compared to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), according to a new study released by NAEP. To read more, visit and click on the appropriate link under “News.”

NC Educator Evaluation System Training l Refresher Webinars

NCDPI Educator Effectiveness staff are hosting refresher webinars on the NC Educator Evaluation System with new and experienced users in mind. Webinar details are available online at Webinars will be archived for those who cannot attend and for future reference.

Educator Effectiveness Offers New Self-Paced Online Modules

NCDPI Educator Effectiveness staff are excited to announce the release of the following self-paced online professional development modules: modules: Assessing Digital Tools, and mini modules: Creating a Connected Culture Through Student Engagement and Empowerment, Creating and Managing PD Through Home Base, Google Apps for Educators, Twitter in Education, and Using Adobe Connect. For a complete list of online courses, modules and mini modules, visit or look under the Professional Development tab in Home Base.

To self-register for these free courses, follow the instructions below to log into Home Base:

  • Log in to the NCEES system using your usual PowerSchool log in or the alternate log in
  • Click the Professional Development tab.
  • Search for the course, or list all opportunities to find the course for which you wish to register.
  • Click on the course title, you are then presented with the course screen. Click on the section.
  • Click on the register button.

Directions on how to register also are available at

For more information, please contact Geetanjali Soni at

NC Students Immersed in 2015 Governor’s School Session

Gifted high school students from across the state are exploring cutting-edge ideas and concepts in academics and the arts as the 2015 Session of the North Carolina Governor’s School is underway. The five-and-a-half week summer residential program welcomed 650 rising seniors and some exceptional juniors to its two campuses - Governor’s School East (Meredith College, Raleigh) and Governor’s School West (Salem College, Winston-Salem). To read more as well as access the lists of selected students, please visit and click on the appropriate link under “News.”

More Than Half a Million Books Collected for Give Five - Read Five

Thanks to the statewide summer reading campaign Give Five - Read Five and similar local efforts, thousands of public school students won’t have to spend the summer without books to read. As a part of these campaigns, businesses, nonprofits, churches and even other middle and high schools collected more than 533,000 books for students to take home and read to help them maintain literacy skills during summer break. To read more, visit and select the appropriate link under “News.”