NORTH CAROLINA EARNS APPROVAL FOR PLAN TO INCORPORATE FEDERAL REQUIREMENTS INTO STATE ACCOUNTABILITY PROGRAM
RALEIGH, N.C. - A Cumberland County principal has received the state's top honor in the 2003 Wachovia Principal of the Year competition.
North Carolina today received approval from the U.S. Department of Education for its plan to incorporate federal requirements into the state's ABCs accountability program. The federal requirements are a part of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, the largest ever expansion of involvement in K-12 education by the federal government.
The announcement that North Carolina was the 12th state whose plan was approved was made by U.S. Under Secretary of Education Eugene Hickok at a school in Charlotte. He was joined by State Superintendent Mike Ward, Congressman Robin Hayes and local school officials.
North Carolina has a widely acclaimed testing and accountability program. In many ways, the national standards set by the No Child Left Behind Act closely track North Carolina's efforts to improve public schools. That Act requires accountability for results, closing achievement gaps and having a "Highly Qualified" teacher in every classroom.
Governor Michael F. Easley said of the announcement, "Because North Carolina's plan includes high standards and tough accountability measures, I expect the test results will show many of our schools needing improvement, especially when it comes to closing the achievement gap. We should embrace these tough standards and never be satisfied with the status quo. I am convinced the only way we will prepare our children for the future is to challenge ourselves to do better."
Based upon input from advisory committees, educators and others, the State Board of Education and Department of Public Instruction are combining components of the federal model with the ABCs so we will have one accountability model - still called the ABCs. Sanctions and rewards are important components of the system. This plan is what was given formal approval today. U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige called this a "huge achievement" for North Carolina.
State Superintendent Mike Ward said the approval capped several months of intense work by the DPI staff, the Compliance Commission for Accountability, educators, and community members to mesh the federal standards into North Carolina's model. He said, "We already have a strong system of testing and accountability in place. We also have a system of providing support to low-performing schools. A key focus of the federal law is on closing achievement gaps so no child is left behind. We will intensify our efforts because of the important new federal requirements."
Phil Kirk, chairman of the State Board of Education, said NCLB sets high standards for schools. "NCLB sets higher goals than we've ever had before. Since 1996, when the Board approved the ABCs, student achievement has improved and schools have focused more and more attention on helping students reach grade level and on improving the performance of those students who already have achieved this goal. NCLB takes our efforts to another level and it will be a tremendous challenge for many schools. We have a lot of work ahead for schools and communities to meet these goals."
No Child Left Behind requires that schools make "Adequate Yearly Progress" (AYP) with the goal of having every student proficient by 2013-14. For a school to make AYP, each subgroup and the school overall must make AYP in both reading and mathematics. Subgroups are: White, Black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian/Pacific Islander, Multiracial, Economically Disadvantaged, Limited English Proficient, and Students with Disabilities.
Student testing data from the end-of-grade tests and the Comprehensive Tests of Reading and Mathematics for Grade 10 will be used to determine AYP. For high schools, the ABCs also will look at performance on end-of-course tests to determine achievement on the growth and performance of schools. AYP also is based on attendance or graduation data. North Carolina has set target goals that schools must meet to make AYP.
The State Board has proposed incorporating AYP into the ABCs incentive bonuses. That proposal needs legislative approval before it can be implemented.
For additional information on how North Carolina is incorporating the federal requirements into its efforts to improve schools, check the Web at www.ncpublicschools.org/nclb.
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.