MESSAGES 2012 :: DECEMBER 14, 2012

DECEMBER 14, 2012 - Teachers' Biweekly Messages

On Tuesday, we completed our second round of regional READY meetings and it was great to have the opportunity to see so many teachers representing their schools. I know that you continue to work very hard in this first year of the Common Core State Standards and new Essential Standards. While we were traveling across the state, we also heard many of your concerns and questions about the teacher evaluation model and we will be posting a video clip from our regional meetings in the next few days that features Chief Academic Officer Rebecca Garland describing in detail all six standards and how they fit together. We will let you know when that is posted.

On a more personal note, I want to tell you that during this season when we reflect and give thanks for the people who are meaningful in our lives I know that your names are near the top of many young people's list. Your impact is significant and while the students in your classes may not recognize that today I am certain that they will be grateful to you as they grow up and mature. Best wishes for a warm, peaceful holiday break and I look forward to continuing our conversation in 2013.

June Atkinson

In this Biweekly Teachers' Message:

  1. State Board of Education Meeting Highlights
  2. Holiday Greetings from NC Teacher of the Year
  3. NC Students' NAEP Vocabulary Scores on Par with National Average in 2009 and 2011
  4. NC Students Among Highest Achievers on International Math Assessments
  5. Assessment Specifications for Common Exams Available Online
  6. Podcasts on Common Core, New Assessments and More
  7. New HOME BASE Website, Webinar, and Email Address
  8. LEARN NC Spring Professional Development Courses Online
  9. Student Art Gallery
  10. Arbor Day Photo Contest
  11. Teachers' Message Breaks for the Holiday

State Board of Education Meeting Highlights

Among the items approved by State Board of Education members at their December meeting last week were Guidelines for Academically or Intellectually Gifted Programs, Kindergarten Entry Assessment and K-3 Assessment: Guiding Principles for Development, Race to the Top College Readiness and Enrollment Performance Measures, One-Year Waiver of the EOC Counting as 25 percent of Students' Final Course Grade for the 2012-13 School Year, and an Online Course Requirement Policy. A summary of Board action items is available online at http://stateboard.ncpublicschools.gov/highlights/2012 .

Holiday Greetings from NC Teacher of the Year

As I sit at my computer this morning, I can't believe its already the holiday season! I'm sure many of you are asking, "Where has the time gone?" It feels like just yesterday I was starting my NC Teacher of the Year travels and now I am almost to the halfway point. I cannot believe how fast the year is flying by!

While I travel from the mountains to the sea, I hear from teachers who are frustrated with the new curriculum and the many hurdles that they have to climb over. This is completely understandable, but I want you to know that you are not alone. This is a difficult year to be a teacher not only in North Carolina but also in the United States because of the changes in curriculum, assessment, and evaluations. However, I think frustrations are to be expected when change is present. Change and frustrations help us to step outside of our comfort zones and look at teaching from a different view. Is it difficult? Yes, of course it is. But, just think of where we were in August and how far we have already come this school year.

As I cross the state, I see teachers who are determined to do whatever it takes to help their students succeed. I have watched amazing Common Core lessons where the students are learning, understanding, and having fun. I have talked with teachers who are so passionate about teaching that they are willing to collaborate with teachers across the state, so their students can be more successful. But what stands out the most, is the countless number of teachers who remember that our focus is and should always be on our students. Students are the reason we as teachers go to school each day. Students are the ones who bring a smile to our faces. Students are the ones who helped us to realize that teaching was the career that we were meant to do.

It can be easy to get caught up in the day-to-day changes that are happening in our career. But I want to challenge each of you, to continue to focus on our students. Our students are our futures. And from the students in your classrooms, schools and across the state I want to say, "Thank you for everything you do each day!"

I hope each of you have a wonderful holiday season with your friends, families, and loved ones. Please remember if there is anything I can do to help you, you can contact me at darcygrimesnctoy@gmail.com.

Thank you again for everything you do each day for the students of North Carolina! – 2012-13 NC Teacher of the Year Darcy Grimes

NC Students' NAEP Vocabulary Scores on Par with National Average in 2009 and 2011

North Carolina fourth and eighth graders scored in line with the national average on vocabulary questions administered as a part of the 2009 and 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading assessments according to a recently released national report. The NAEP's first ever vocabulary results report, "Vocabulary Results from the 2009 and 2011 NAEP Reading Assessments," included an average vocabulary score among students in grades four and eight from 52 states and jurisdictions. In 2009, the average score in NAEP vocabulary for public school fourth graders was 217, while North Carolina fourth graders had an average score of 220. In 2011, both the national and North Carolina average scores among fourth graders were 217. At the eighth grade level, the national average score in 2009 and 2011 was 263. In North Carolina, the average score among the state's eighth graders was 262 in 2009 and 265 in 2011. For more information and a breakdown of North Carolina's NAEP results, visit http://dpi.state.nc.us/accountability/policies/naep/2 .

NC Students Among Highest Achievers on International Math Assessments

North Carolina was the only participating state in the country and one of only eight education systems across the world in which fourth grade math students outscored the test average and U.S. national average on the 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) according to a report released Tuesday by the National Center for Education Statistics. At the eighth grade level, North Carolina was among only 11 states and countries to score higher than both the TIMSS scale and national averages. In science, the average scores among fourth and eighth grade students in the state exceeded the TIMSS scale average but not the U.S. national average. The report, "Highlights from TIMSS 2011: Mathematics and Science Achievement of U.S. Fourth- and Eighth-Grade Students in an International Context," compares the performance of U.S. fourth and eighth grade students in mathematics and science to the performance of their peers internationally. State Superintendent June Atkinson said, "These results offer proof that North Carolina students can be competitive with their peers across the globe, especially in the critical areas of math and science. Our efforts in early childhood education, providing professional development for teachers, and setting higher expectations for students are paying off, as measured by TIMSS. The fact that our scores were comparable to scores from countries such as Singapore is a tribute to the work underway to remodel public education in this state."

Assessment Specifications for Common Exams Available Online

Teachers can access the assessment specifications for the high school common exams on the Educator Effectiveness website. The specifications provide information on the standards within a course, how heavily each is weighted on the common exam, and which question types will be used to assess each standard. Specifications for the middle school and upper elementary school common exams will be posted in the coming months. To find the assessment specifications, please visit www.ncpublicschools.org/educatoreffect/measures/specifications . For more information, please contact educatoreffectiveness@dpi.nc.gov.

Podcasts on Common Core, New Assessments and More

With the many changes occurring in the NC Standard Course of Study, along with new assessments, a new educator evaluation system and more, the NCDPI has produced a number of podcasts for teachers, principals, parents and others interested in a video resource to explain the work under way. Topics include READY Overview, Why the Common Core, Assessments, and Educator Effectiveness Common Exams. Visit www.ncpublicschools.org/ready/resources to access these podcasts. For more information, contact Michael Yarbrough at michael.yarbrough@dpi.nc.gov.

New HOME BASE Website, Webinar, and Email Address

The HOME BASE (formerly known as IIS) website is now available at www.ncpublicschools.org/homebase . Send questions or comments to: Home_Base_Ready@dpi.nc.gov.

LEARN NC Spring Professional Development Courses Online

The spring schedule of LEARN NC's online professional development courses is available at www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/7698 and open for enrollment! LEARN NC is offering courses for its Carolina On-line Teacher (COLT) program, as well as Moodle training, content-area courses, and courses designed to help teachers work with special populations. As always, each course was created using a researched model of effective professional development and the online format allows participants to work at a time and place most convenient to them. All courses are aligned to the North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards.

Student Art Gallery

NC WiseOwl is now accepting submissions to the Student Art Gallery (www.ncwiseowl.org/gallery/). The Gallery enables North Carolina students to share their work with other students from around the State. In addition to the motivational factor of having their creativity recognized, students are able to gain inspiration from viewing the works of their peers. There is no charge to participate. Submission instructions are available online at www.ncwiseowl.org/gallery/submit_art.htm. For more information, please contact Dan Sparlin at dan.sparlin@dpi.nc.gov.

Arbor Day Photo Contest

The North Carolina Forest Service is sponsoring its 2013 Arbor Day Photo Contest for fifth through 12th grade students. The photo contest is an opportunity to share the beauty, value and benefits of trees. This year's contest theme is "Trees Where I Live." Contest details, guidelines and an entry form are available online at www.ncforestservice.gov/Urban/arbor_day_photo_contest.htm . The submission deadline is Feb. 28. Contest winners will be notified March 11, and cash prizes and trees will be awarded to the winners at the NC Arbor Day celebration on March 22 in Raleigh. For more information, please contact Jennifer Rall, NC Forest Service, at jennifer.rall@ncagr.gov or 919.857.4849.

Teachers' Message Breaks for Holiday

This will be the last Biweekly Teachers' message sent in 2012 due to the holiday season and winter break. The next Teachers' message will be sent Jan. 10. NCDPI staff hope you and your families have a joyous holiday season!