MESSAGES 2012 :: MARCH 8, 2012

MARCH 8, 2012 - Teachers' Biweekly Messages

I want to thank all of the teacher representatives who have attended or will attend one of the READY regional outreach meetings underway across North Carolina this month. We began in Greensboro on Feb. 28 where nearly 800 teacher representatives, principals and other central office staff met with NCDPI and State Board of Education leadership. This week, we are in Elizabeth City, Wilmington and Fayetteville then on to Raleigh, Hickory, Charlotte and Asheville. My message in each region is that our public schools have a strong foundation and that the challenge before us is to remodel and update our system of public schools to meet student needs today and in the future. Thanks to Race to the Top funding, we do have some resources to help us move our remodeling project more quickly than we could have done otherwise. I wish that we had the resources to invite each and every teacher in North Carolina to one of these sessions. Because resources do have limits, however, we are reaching as many of you as possible in the face-to-face meetings and we have posted the materials and PowerPoint slides online for you to see at www.ncpublicschools.org/ready. In the next few weeks, video segments of the Raleigh regional meeting will be available too, and we'll advertise the link at that time.

June Atkinson

In this Biweekly Teachers' Message:

  1. State Board Meeting Highlights
  2. State Board Grants Calendar Waiver Requests
  3. March 4-10 School Social Work Week
  4. Next Generation Assessments: Why Online?
  5. Standards: Common Core & North Carolina Essential Standards
  6. NC Teacher Named National Online Teacher of the Year
  7. Wake County CTE Teacher Receives National Recognition
  8. K-6 Students Can Honor Their School Bus Drivers Through Essay Contest Microsoft
  9. Agricultural Biotechnology Workshop Deadline Extended

State Board Meeting Highlights

At last week's Board meeting, members approved Arts Education courses eligible for Honors Weight, Educator Effectiveness Policies, the Board's 2012-13 Supplemental Budget request, 21st Century Community Learning Center Grants, and School-Based Calendar Waiver Requests for Educational Purposes. Board members also approved a resolution reflecting the Board's position on the importance of pre-K education, a motion stating the application of any "fast track" charter school that cannot open by its set starting date to be null and void, and a motion granting authority to the State Superintendent to grant districts waivers of up to five instructional days if the days are to be used for specific professional development. A summary of Board action items, in addition to the full agenda and executive materials, are available online at www.ncpublicschools.org/stateboard/meetings .

State Board Grants Calendar Waiver Requests

At their March meeting, State Board members approved a motion granting authority to the State Superintendent to grant local districts waivers of up to five instructional days for the 2012-13 school year if the days are used for the following purposes:

  • provide additional professional development on Essential Standards and Common Core as described in your LEA or Charter School's approved Detailed Scope of Work under the Race to the Top initiative (Section B3),
  • train teachers and staff on how to use digital devices to improve instruction, or
  • other targeted staff development with documented results that such training has enhanced student performance (ex.: Responsiveness to Instruction).

Districts must submit waiver requests by April 30. Waiver requests for any other reason will be considered by the State Board of Education as long as they are submitted by April 30.

March 4-10 School Social Work Week

Gov. Bev. Perdue has proclaimed March 4-10 as School Social Work Week and urges citizens to recognize the outstanding contributions made to the education of youth by school social workers. School social workers provide a valuable service by connecting children and families to needed health, mental health and other social services to support student success in schools.

Next Generation Assessments: Why online?

North Carolina has provided online assessments since 2005 when the administration of the computer skills test was completely online. The goal is that by 2014-15, all assessments will be administered online; this includes a new generation of assessments for grades 3-8 and high school subjects, as well as the SMARTER Balanced Assessments that will be online in 2014-15. Moving to an online delivery of assessments aligns with efforts already underway to provide online instructional resources, online formative and benchmark assessments, and online training and professional development for teachers. One other important reason that North Carolina plans to transition to online assessments is to take advantage of computer adaptive testing. As a governing member in the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium, North Carolina plans to adopt the common assessments developed by the consortium, which are being designed in a computer adaptive format. A brief overview of the latest information on North Carolina's online assessments can be found at www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/acre/assessment/assess1pageroct11.pdf . For more information on the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium, please visit www.smarterbalanced.org/ . Questions on online assements may also be directed to Kayla Siler at Kayla.siler@dpi.nc.gov.

Standards: Common Core & North Carolina Essential Standards

LEARN NC is pleased to announce that its work aligning each of its 1,600 lesson plans to the Common Core and NC Essential Standards is complete and ready to use. Stay tuned as they continue to align the thousands of external lesson plans linked on their website, as well. Additionally, LEARN NC is taking a leadership role in collaboration with its eLearning for Educators partners to design, develop, and deliver innovative online professional development opportunities and resources to help guide teachers through the transition to the new standards. Check it the changes at www.learnnc.org/scos for Common Core/Essential Standards and https://ncelearning.org for eLearning for Educators. For more offerings from LEARN NC, please visit http://blogs.learnnc.org/

NC Teacher Named National Online Teacher of the Year

Congratulations to Leslie Fetzer, an online biology teacher at the North Carolina Virtual Public School, for recently being named America's 2012 National Online Teacher of the Year for K-12 education. The 2012 SREB/iNACOL National Online Teacher of the Year Award recognizes an outstanding online teacher for exceptional contributions to online K-12 education. Fetzer was awarded a custom-created crystal Flame of Excellence and a trip to the Virtual School Symposium sponsored by iNACOL Oct. 21-24 in New Orleans. As the 2012 National Online Teacher of the Year, she will represent online teachers at speaking appearances throughout the year, will be recognized during the iNACOL Annual Meeting and will be featured on the SREB and iNACOL websites. The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) sponsor the award.

Wake County CTE Teacher Receives National Recognition

Congratulations to Tracie Dunlap (Cary High, Wake County Schools) who was recently recognized as the 2012 North Carolina ProStart Educator of the Year. The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation's ProStart Educator Excellence Awards recognize an exceptional educator from every state who utilizes the ProStart program in his/her classroom. ProStart is two-year program for high school students that develops the best and brightest talent into tomorrow's industry leaders. From culinary techniques to management skills, ProStart's industry-driven curriculum provides real-world educational opportunities and builds practical skills and a foundation that will last a lifetime and culminate with the student earning the National ProStart Certificate of Achievement credential.

K-6 Students Can Honor Their School Bus Drivers Through Essay Contest

Thomas Built Buses is sponsoring an essay contest for students in kindergarten through sixth grade to honor their school bus drivers. Students are invited to submit essays of at least 90 words that describe what makes their school bus drivers so special. The winning essays will be featured on the Thomas Built website when the judging is complete. The child who nominates the grand prize winner will receive a laptop computer and $1,000 educational savings bond, and the nominated driver will receive a $1,000 Visa® gift card. Grand prize winners and top finalists also will receive Thomas Built Buses jackets and Saf-T-Liner®C2 school bus lunch boxes. To enter the contest, visit www.thomasbus.com/contest for complete rules and an entry form. Entries must be postmarked by June 30, 2012. Completed forms and typed or legibly printed essays of at least 90 words should be mailed to: Children's Choice Essay Contest, HMH, 1435 W. Morehead St., Suite 140, Charlotte, NC 28208.

Agricultural Biotechnology Workshop Deadline Extended

The deadline to register for the North Carolina Biotechnology Center's Agricultural Biotechnology Workshop for middle school teachers has been extended to March 14. This workshop, which is scheduled for July 23-27 at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center and other venues in the Research Triangle Park area, will focus on how biotechnology works in agriculture now, and the role it will play in dealing with future challenges due to global warming and population growth. Topics and activities will be linked to the standard curricula in middle school science, Exploring Biotechnology, and Exploring Agricultural Science. Attendees will tour agricultural biotechnology companies and talk to employees to learn first-hand about their jobs and career opportunities for students. Please visit www.ncbiotech.org/agbiotech_workshop/ for instructions on how to apply, for more detailed information about the workshop, and to submit your application.