1.46 MILLION NC STUDENTS BEGIN SCHOOL YEAR
In the next few weeks, schools operating on traditional calendars will open their doors and all of North Carolina's 1.46 million public school students will be back in the classroom gearing up for a new year of learning. For these students, parents and teachers, the 2009-10 school year will present a number of changes due to new legislation, State Board of Education policy and smaller state and local budgets.
"North Carolina is known as a national leader in education innovation,"said State Superintendent June Atkinson. "Even with limited resources, our talented administrators and teachers will rise to the challenge, get creative and make sure our students and schools continue to shine this year."
The first change affecting many students and parents is a revision in the state law regarding kindergarten registration. The new law specifies that only children who turn 5 years old on or by Aug. 31 are able to register for kindergarten in public schools. Legislators voted to move the legal school entry age up by a month and a half in an effort to reduce dropout rates in later grades and help ensure students are ready for formal school when they begin kindergarten. The change makes about 13,000 students ineligible to register this year. For those students who meet the age requirement, parents should contact their local school district for more information on when and how to register.
Also starting this year, incoming high school freshmen will be required to complete the Future-Ready Core Course of Study in order to receive their high school diploma. This course of study was approved by the State Board of Education in June 2007 to encourage students to take more rigorous and focused courses so they will graduate better prepared for college or work. The core increases the level of mathematics proficiency required and features a one-course increase in the total number of math courses required under previous state standards. The policy also includes elective units students can use to customize their high school learning experience to match their plans for the future. The Occupational Course of Study will continue to be available for those students with cognitive disabilities who are specifically identified for this program.
While students are no longer required to complete The North Carolina Graduation Project as a state graduation requirement, they must still score proficient on five end-of-course assessments: Algebra I, Biology, English I, Civics, Economics, and US History. Local school districts have the option of adding other requirements for graduation as well. For example, 80 school districts are requiring high school students to complete some form of a graduation project to receive their diplomas. For more information about the Future-Ready Core or North Carolina graduation requirements, visit http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/gradrequirements/.
"Much time and effort went into developing the Future-Ready Core and the Board is excited that students are now able to use it as they select the courses that will best prepare them for college learning and careers in the 21st century,"said State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison.
Due to cuts in state and local budgets this year, many North Carolina schools also may have fewer teachers and teacher assistants, which might lead to higher student to adult ratios in classrooms for grades 4-12. State funding also has been eliminated for literacy coaches working in middle schools, new textbook purchases and most testing not currently required for high school graduation, by federal law or as a condition of federal grants.
For more information about statewide changes affecting public education in North Carolina for the new school year, contact the NCDPI Communications division at 919.807.3450.
About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 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.