NEWS RELEASES 2009-10 :: SEPTEMBER 3, 2009


After numerous face-to-face and virtual meetings, thousands of comments and three rewrites, the State Board of Education today approved the essential standards for K-12 Mathematics, English 10, the Occupational Course of Study and K-12 Information and Technology. This first group of essential standards, which become effective in the 2011-12 school year, are an integral part of the statewide Accountability and Curriculum Reform Effort (ACRE) approved by the State Board of Education as part of its "Framework for Change."

"North Carolina's Standard Course of Study has been criticized for being an inch deep and a mile wide," State Superintendent June Atkinson said. "The new essential standards clarify for teachers and others the fundamental skills and knowledge students must master to be successful at the next grade level."

ACRE is the state's comprehensive initiative to redefine its Standard Course of Study for K-12 students, its assessment program and the state accountability model. The work in these three areas is occurring simultaneously and will be completed in stages over the next five years. These efforts include:

  • Identifying the most critical knowledge and skills that students need to learn.
  • Creating new tests in reading and mathematics for grades 3-8, science in grades 5 and 8, and selected high school courses. These tests would use more open-ended questions, more technology and more real-world applications.
  • Providing a new model for measuring school success that gives parents and educators more relevant information about how well schools are preparing students for college and careers.

State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison said the Department's ACRE initiative is the "most important and significant work of the State Board of Education and the Department of Public Instruction in a generation." He added that no other state is revising its curriculum, assessment program and accountability model at the same time. "We were a pioneer in the 1990s when the ABCs accountability program was created. With ACRE we find ourselves once again in that pioneering role. It's exhilarating to be part of an effort that will positively change public schools and students for generations to come."

The essential standards approved by the Board were the results of efforts of statewide writing teams comprised of classroom teachers, school administrators, content and curriculum experts from the NCDPI, university and community college faculty and national experts on curriculum design and testing. Writing teams are currently working on the next group of essential standards for K-9 and 11-12 English Language Arts, K-12 social studies, foreign languages, healthful living and fine arts. These standards are projected to go into effect in the 2012-13 school year. Essential standards for K-12 science began development as part of the first group and are still being developed. The science standards should be implemented no later than the 2012-13 school year.

To support successful implementation of the essential standards, Department staff is developing teacher "tookits" for each content area as well as a professional development plan for rolling out the standards to educators across the state.

"This is an incredible undertaking and the efforts currently underway to make this a reality are inspiring. I applaud North Carolina educators for their willingness to tackle so much in a relatively short time," Atkinson said.

For more information on ACRE and the essential standards, please visit or contact the 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.