MESSAGES 2012 :: OCTOBER 25, 2012

OCTOBER 25, 2012 - Teachers' Biweekly Messages

Today, the 11th annual NC School Report Cards went live online at www.ncreportcards.org, providing parents and educators with a strong and unified resource of information about each public school and public charter school in North Carolina. There is power in having so much information at our fingertips. At the same time, whenever I look at the Report Cards and at the neat charts and numbers they provide, I try to remember that the numbers only hint at the real story. Behind the testing data, for example, are students and teachers who have worked very hard all year long. Behind the class size numbers are budget decisions and hard choices that local educators have had to make during this time of economic difficulty. Behind the student discipline numbers are assistant principals and school counselors who have been working to help students be successful. Behind the teacher quality data are teachers who have worked extra hard to complete advanced degrees or certification. It takes a large team of school, district and state-level staff to collect all of this information and to display it accurately and in a timely way, just as it takes a team to support your work in the classroom. I hope your school will use the School Report Cards to share some of this data and the stories behind the numbers with parents and others.

As a reminder, Nov. 6 is Election Day. I hope you have the opportunity to cast your ballot in this year's election.

June Atkinson

In this Biweekly Teachers' Message:

  1. State Board of Education Meets Next Week
  2. Report Cards are Out on North Carolina Public Schools
  3. 2012-13 READY NCEXTEND2 Online Assessments
  4. Accommodations and Online Assessments
  5. Resources Address Extended Content Standards
  6. Arts Education, Healthful Living and World Language Assessment Examples
  7. ASCD Launches Free Digital Common Core Implementation Tool
  8. State Superintendent Featured as Guest Blogger for Huffington Post
  9. Johnston County Teacher Wins Music Room Makeover
  10. Webinar Addresses Professional Development Plan Mid-Year Review
  11. Seats Still Available in Professional Development Online Courses

State Board of Education Meets Next Week

The State Board of Education will hold its November meeting next week, Oct. 31-Nov.1, in the 7th Floor Board Room, Education Building, Raleigh. Action items include Career and Technical Education Revisions to Essential Standards, Dual Credit for Career and College Promise Courses, the Board's 2013-15 Biennial Budget Request and RttT Bonus Payments to Certified Personnel in Persistently Low-Performing Schools. Discussion items include Credit by Demonstrated Mastery, Kindergarten Entry Assessment and K-3 Assessment, and Reading Preparation for Pre-Service Elementary Education IHE Programs. On the Board's Information Agenda are reports on the Dropout Recovery Project and Career and Technical Educational Credentials. The complete agenda as well as supporting executive summaries are available online at http://stateboard.ncpublicschools.gov/ (click on SBE Meetings then Meetings). The meeting is audio streamed for those who cannot attend. To listen in, please visit the above link and click on the live audio streams link to the right.

Report Cards are Out on North Carolina Public Schools

Parents and interested citizens looking for a one-stop information source on their local public schools need look no further than the NC School Report Cards website - www.ncreportcards.org - which has just been updated to reflect 2011-12 school-year data. To read more about this year's data release, please visit www.ncpublicschools.org and click on the appropriate link under "News."

2012-13 READY NCEXTEND2 Online Assessments

For the 2012-13 school year, all NCEXTEND2 assessments will be delivered in an online format. This includes the NCEXTEND2 assessments for Biology, English II, Algebra I/Integrated I, Grades 3-8 English Language Arts and Mathematics, and Grades 5 and 8 Science. In the fall of 2007, the NCDPI conducted a feasibility study for both the end-of-grade and end-of-course assessments for online delivery of the NCEXTEND2 assessments. Teachers also suggested features that would ensure an optimal testing environment for the students. During the spring 2011 item tryouts, the NCEXTEND2 assessments were administered completely online. The success observed and lessons learned with the administration of the NCEXTEND2 assessments helped move NC forward in the transition to online assessments.

NOTE: Districts have the option of administering NCEXTEND2 assessments in the online or paper and pencil format; however, online testing is strongly encouraged. For more information, please contact Kayla Siler at Kayla.siler@dpi.nc.gov or visit www.ncpublicschools.org/accountabillity/testing .

Accommodations and Online Assessments

The online assessment system (NCTest) not only meets the needs of students with disabilities and students identified as limited English proficient who require accommodations, but also offers several universal design features to all students such as large font, adjustable background colors and one test item per page. Online assessments are available to all students in regular or large font and in different background/foreground colors; however, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) recommends these options be considered only for students who routinely use similar tools (e.g., color acetate overlays, colored background paper, and large print text) in the classroom.

Students with the documented accommodation of Computer Reads Test Aloud-Student Controlled have access to audio files of item content for all online assessments except those that measure reading comprehension. To activate the read aloud option, the student must click a speaker button . Speaker buttons are located by every block of text for which there are audio files available. Each speaker button activates an audio file for that particular block of text. The files are streaming mp3 audio files that are delivered from the host server when the student clicks the speaker button. The audio files are human vocalization and not computer-generated modulation. In some cases this will reduce the need for separate settings for certain students, because they can use headphones and take the assessments in the same class as other students.

For more information about accommodations for assessments please visit www.ncpublicschools.org/accountability/policies/accom . For more information, please contact Kayla Siler at kayla.siler@dpi.nc.gov or visit www.ncpublicschools.org/accountability/testing/ .

Resources Address Extended Content Standards

There are a number of resources available online to support the Extended Content Standards. The standards are available at www.ncpublicschools.org/acre/standards/extended and support tools at www.ncpublicschools.org/acre/standards/extended-tools/ . Please refer back often to the support tools' page as additional information will continually be added. Additional information including training information can be found online at http://ec.ncpublicschools.gov/disability-resources/significant-cognitive-disabilities/nc-extended-content-standards . Also there is an email group for teachers of students with significant cognitive disabilities where trainings and other information regarding the standards are announced. Please contact Claire Greer at Claire.Greer@dpi.nc.gov if you would like to be added to this email group.

The Literacy Website (much of North Carolina's work is featured on this site) at www.hknc.org/Literacy.htm has some tools on Extended Standards. Although the website is supported by the National Consortia on Deaf-Blindness, the information is intended for students with significant cognitive disabilities as well as students with dual sensory loss. Other outside resources can be found at the Tar Heel Readers website, http://tarheelreader.org.

Finally, an online Livebinder for information on the Extended Content Standards will soon be available. An announcement will be sent when this resource is available. For more information, please contact Claire Greer at Claire.Greer@dpi.nc.gov.

Arts Education, Healthful Living and World Language Assessment Examples

Arts Education, Healthful Living and World Language assessment examples were developed as part of North Carolina's Race to the Top plan to support standards implementation. These examples are not intended to be used as standardized statewide tests, but to serve as examples of some ways the standards (or parts of the standards) could be assessed by classroom teachers. Teachers are encouraged to implement assessments in ways that make sense to their teaching situations and best fit the needs of their students. The examples that have been reviewed and approved, along with a description of the development process, are accessible from the following web pages:

Additional examples are being refined and are expected to be available by mid-December. Please contact Helga Fasciano at Helga.Fasciano@dpi.nc.gov for more information.

ASCD Launches Free Digital Common Core Implementation Tool

ASCD is introducing its new, free EduCoreā„¢ digital tool for educators implementing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in both mathematics and literacy. Funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the EduCore tool is a repository of evidence-based strategies, videos, and supporting documents that help educators transition to the CCSS. The EduCore tool supports CCSS implementation for mathematics and features a variety of formative assessment lessons and videos ready for classroom use, including more than 20 formative assessment mathematics lessons. Developed by the Shell Centre, these middle and high school Classroom Challenges include problem-solving and content-development formative assessments on subjects such as solving linear equations in two variables and applying angle theorems. Useful plans, student materials, PowerPoint slides, and other materials round out the many mathematics resources available. Visit the EduCore tool at http://educore.ascd.org. Additional ASCD resources that aid educators who are implementing the Common Core State Standards can be found at www.ascd.org/commoncore. For more information, please contact Maria Pitre-Martin at maria.pitremartin@dpi.nc.gov.

State Superintendent Featured as Guest Blogger for Huffington Post

State Superintendent June Atkinson made her debut as a guest blogger for the Huffington Post earlier this month with a post highlighting the importance of financial literacy education in North Carolina. The Huffington Post's list of blog contributors includes Robert Redford, Jillian Michaels, Gary Hart, Daniel Ellsberg and many more. The Huffington Post is a news website and blog that covers politics, business, entertainment, environment, technology, popular media, lifestyle, culture, comedy, healthy living, women's interests, and local news. To read Atkinson's first post, visit www.huffingtonpost.com/june-st-clair-atkinson/financial-literacy_b_1971260.html .

Johnston County Teacher Wins Music Room Makeover

Congratulations to Meadow School (Johnston County Schools) music teacher Kevin Kaufman for winning the 2012 In Tune Ultimate Music Room Makeover. Kaufman submitted an essay for the national contest that described how Meadow School would benefit from receiving new band material ranging from instruments to musical software. The school received musical instruments, equipment and cash valued at $45,000 from various sponsors. Kaufman and the band program will be featured in the magazine's December edition, which will be available online at www.intunemonthly.com .

Webinar Addresses Professional Development Plan Mid-Year Review

This NCDPI sponsored webinar provides teachers and principals with an opportunity to review the process for completing the mid-year review of the teacher's Professional Development Plan. The following topics will be addressed during the webinar:

  • the North Carolina State Board of Education policy on the evaluation process;
  • the teacher process for accessing the existing Professional Development Plan, reviewing the plan at mid-year, and authenticating the plan;
  • the principal process for accessing the existing Professional Development Plan, reviewing the plan at mid-year, and authenticating the plan; and
  • resources, strategies, and best practices for developing SMART goals at the mid-year review to promote continuous professional growth.

The webinar will be held on Nov. 13 from 1-3 p.m. and again at 3:30-5:30 p.m., and on Nov. 28 from 9-11 a.m. and again at 2-4 p.m. To register for the webinar, please visit http://ncees.ncdpi.wikispaces.net/Upcoming+Webinars . For more information, please contact Eliz Colbert at eliz.colbert@dpi.nc.gov.

Seats Still Available in Professional Development Online Courses

LEARN NC has seats open in their online professional development course sections. Whether you are interested in picking up credit hours in the Common Core, technology, literacy, ESL, or American history, there is something for you. LEARN NC's online courses, which are aligned to North Carolina Educator Technology Competencies, NETS, and INTASC standards, eliminate travel expenses and substitute-teacher costs normally associated with staff development. Online professional development allows teachers to participate at a time and place most convenient to them, and collaborate with colleagues via a variety of easy-to-use electronic forums. For more information, including registration, please visit https://ncelearning.org/index .