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NEWS RELEASES 2001-02 :: SEPTEMBER 25, 2001

CONTACT: David Griffith


(Alexandria, VA) - North Carolina's new statewide standards for student promotion from grades 3, 5, and 8, as well as for high school graduation the first time North Carolina has set promotion standards for elementary and secondary students are being recognized by the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) as a State Improvement Initiative, a series highlighting innovative and effective state education reforms.

Brenda Welburn, NASBE Executive Director, noted that "North Carolina is already recognized as a national leader in holding schools accountable and these newest standards keep the state in the forefront of education accountability efforts occurring across the country. Most importantly, the State Board has designed a system to more quickly identify students who need help in reaching grade level and to enable schools to provide these students with the individualized instruction they need to be prepared for the next level of schooling."

State Board Chairman Phil Kirk said "these rigorous promotion standards are not designed to hold students back or to punish them. The standards are being implemented to insure that every child will be helped to achieve his or her maximum level of learning. We never would have experienced the outpouring of support in additional dollars for interventions and in volunteers to help students achieve these standards had we not adopted these benchmarks as part of our accountability efforts. The very students the previous system of social promotion failed are being helped tremendously!"

The new requirements are part of the Student Accountability Standards approved by the North Carolina State Board of Education. The standards, also called "gateways," for promotion in grades 3, 5, and 8 require students to demonstrate that they are performing at grade level in reading, writing, and mathematics. For high school graduation, students will need a passing score on a new exit exam of essential skills (to be taken in the spring of students 11th grade year) in addition to meeting existing local and state graduation requirements.

The State Board has adopted procedures for students who do not meet gateway requirements and yet are working at grade level. These procedures include opportunities for two rounds of re-testing and a formal review process. The State Board's policy makes clear that the final decision regarding student promotion will always be a local decision with the school principal having the final say but it must be based on the state's standards. There are special provisions for students with disabilities and students with limited English proficiency.

Students who are not promoted to the next grade will receive extra help in smaller classes or additional instructional opportunities; they may also be provided with a personalized education plan that outlines strategies to assist each student.

Thus far, North Carolina has expended more than $38 million over the past three years for strategies such as interventions as part of the efforts to improve student accountability. An additional $5 million has been approved for 2001-2002 and 2002-2003. Results over the last decade from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests, including the recent 2000 Mathematics Assessment, demonstrate that North Carolina students have continued to make significant gains, with fourth and eighth graders surpassing national and regional averages in both reading and math.

The complete policy and frequently asked questions are available on the state's website at For more information, contact the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction's Communications Office at 919.807.3450.

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NASBE represents America's state and territorial boards of education. Our principal objectives are to strengthen state leadership in education policymaking; advocate equality of access to educational opportunity; promote excellence in the education of all students; and assure responsible lay governance of education.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.