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NEWS RELEASES 2002-03 :: JANUARY 7, 2003


North Carolina was one of five states to receive a B on Improving Teacher Quality, according to Education Week's seventh annual 50-state report card, and, for the first time, improved its grade on School Climate to a C+, likely the result of statewide efforts to lower class sizes in primary grades and in needy schools. Only South Carolina earned a higher grade than North Carolina on Improving Teacher Quality.

The full letter grade report card showed North Carolina receiving a B- on Standards and Accountability - down from a B in 2002; a C+ on School Climate - up from a D- in 2001 (no score was given to states in 2002); a C+ on Adequacy and Equity of Resources - up from a C in these areas the previous year; and a B on Improving Teacher Quality - down from a B+ in 2002. North Carolina's grades overall placed it solidly in the middle of the national range, with the exception of Improving Teacher Quality which was higher.

State Superintendent Mike Ward said that he was pleased that North Carolina remains a leading state in improving teacher quality and that the state showed a gain in school climate, particularly given the state's budget situation. "We are so fortunate in North Carolina to have a Governor and legislature who continue to support the advances North Carolina public schools have made by providing funding for salary increases and reduced class sizes in a budget year that that was the worst in decades," Ward said.

State Board of Education Chairman Phil Kirk said that he was particularly pleased that the state was able to bring up its school climate grade. "We know that academic achievement and efforts to improve teacher quality are critical, but for parents, school climate is an important indicator of how well that school will do in meeting their child's academic needs."

The 2003 Quality Counts report, "Ensuring a Highly Qualified Teacher for Every Classroom," focuses on the "teacher gap," and the shortage of well-qualified teachers in schools that are low performing, that have high numbers of at-risk students or that have other special challenges. The report found that while all states and the District of Columbia are taking steps to recruit and retain quality teachers, those efforts are "generally not aimed at finding teachers for high-poverty, high-minority, and low-achieving schools." In addition, the report looked at the role of working conditions and its role in the recruitment and retention of quality teachers.

Quality teachers, administrators and staff is one of the State Board of Education's five strategic priorities for excellent schools, and recruiting and retaining quality educators continues to be a top priority for the Board. North Carolina's efforts in this area include a wide array of strategies: alternative entry licensure routes, programs that support new teachers, pay increases for advanced degrees and National Board of Professional Teaching Standards certification, and special bonuses for teachers with expertise in specific hard-to-supply subjects who are willing to teach in "high priority" schools.

Local school districts also supplement state efforts to recruit and retain quality professionals through salary supplements, signing bonuses, special incentives provided by local businesses and other perks to improve the quality of teachers' work environment.

The report credited North Carolina for its bonuses of up to $1,800 annually for science, mathematics, or special education teachers who choose to teach in high-priority schools and for adding five days of professional development for teachers in such places but also encouraged more efforts to address increasing the potential of the existing cadre of teachers.

For more information about the state's efforts to improve teacher quality, please contact Kathy Sullivan, Human Resources Management, DPI, at 919.807.3355. To view the complete report, please visit Education Week's Web site at

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.