MESSAGES 2012 :: FEBRUARY 17, 2012

FEBRUARY 17, 2012 - Principals' Biweekly Message

The 2012 READY regional meetings begin in less than two weeks, and I look forward to seeing you and teacher representatives from your schools as we travel across North Carolina's eight educational regions. Response has been strong so far, and we have, in fact, closed registration on two sessions because they are filled. I want to thank everyone who has responded so far. If you have not yet sent in your RSVP survey, there is still time to do so. Regional reminders have been going out via email to all principals, so watch your email queue. These meetings are a good opportunity for you to hear from the leadership of the Department of Public Instruction and your State Board of Education about the many changes that are underway and that go into effect in the fall of 2012 and beyond. It is important that everyone who leads schools understands how all the parts and pieces of these remodeling efforts fit together to benefit student learning in our state.

June Atkinson

In this Biweekly Principals' Message:

  1. Next Generation Assessments: Technology Readiness Tool
  2. Comments Sought on NC Application for Grant Award under IDEA Part B
  3. Severe Weather Awareness Week
  4. Microsoft Office Specialist Certifications Update
  5. Webinar Features Innovative STEM Model Programs
  6. Collaborative Conference for Student Achievement Scheduled for March
  7. Science Laboratory Safety Seminar
  8. Burroughs Wellcome Fund Provides Grant Opportunities

Next-Generation Assessments: Technology Readiness Tool

The SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) are working together to launch a Technology Readiness Tool to support states in the transition to next-generation, online assessments. The tool will allow districts and schools to capture readiness indicators, including: number and types of computers, network and bandwidth infrastructure, local staff resources, and other information related to the digital delivery of assessments. The consortia are planning for communication and training on the tool to begin this month, with the first collection window opening in March. The technology readiness data will be collected twice annually through 2014. The official press release containing more information about the announcement from SMARTER Balanced and PARCC, is available online at .

Comments Sought on NC Application for Grant Award under IDEA Part B

Please note that a public notice for participation and comments on the NC Application for Grant Award under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Act as amended in 2004 for federal FY 2012 is available on the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) website at . The proposed application will be available for public review Feb. 17 - April 19. Comments will be accepted March 1-31. The state application will be available on the NCDPI website at under HIGHLIGHTS. A link for comments will also be available at this location.

Severe Weather Awareness Week

Severe Weather Awareness Week is scheduled for March 4-10. The statewide Tornado Drill will take place on Wednesday, March 7, at 9:30 a.m. At that time the National Weather Service will issue a Required Weekly Test over the NOAA weather radio system. This will serve as a signal for school administrators to begin their tornado drill. The drill will conclude when participants complete their drill activities. No all-clear message will be issued. If this time is not convenient for your school’s instructional program, you may schedule your school’s drill on another day close to March 7.

Microsoft Office Specialist Certifications Update

North Carolina Public Schools was the first state education agency in the country to enter into an agreement with Microsoft to pilot the Microsoft Information Technology Academy (ITA), which provides students with real-world technology skills and industry credentials necessary to be successful in college and careers. North Carolina high school students have earned 27,584 Microsoft Office Specialist certifications since the inception of the ITA in August 2009. A professional development plan for teachers and IT staff in over 100 e-learning courses including but not limited to Windows 7, SharePoint, Exchange, Outlook, and Office applications also has been implemented. As a result, teachers have earned 1,259 MOS certifications, since inception, through this program.

Webinar Features Innovative STEM Model Programs

Please join the NCDPI in collaboration with NC STEM as staff members host this month’s STEM webinar featuring innovative STEM model programs. The webinar will be held Thursday, Feb. 23, at 10 a.m. To register, please visit . After you register, you will receive an email message with participation instructions. For more information, contact Tina Marcus at or 919.807.3423.

Collaborative Conference for Student Achievement Scheduled for March

Mark your calendars for March 19-21 and plan to attend the second annual Collaborative Conference for Student Achievement. The conference will be held at the Sheraton Four Seasons/Joseph S. Koury Convention Center, Greensboro. The registration fee is $175 if you register by Feb. 29 and $200 if you register after this date. For conference details, including registration and agenda, please visit

Science Laboratory Safety Seminar

A Science Laboratory Safety Seminar for appropriate K-12 school personnel will be held June 18-21, from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., at White Oak High School, Jacksonville (Onslow County). This information-packed course is designed to equip participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to provide LEA and school personnel with the knowledge and skills to develop and sustain an on-going science laboratory safety program in their LEA and school. The registration fee is $600/person prior to June 1 and $700/person after June 1. The registration fee covers course materials, a light breakfast and lunch. Participants are responsible for hotel and travel arrangements. Lead science teachers, LEA administrators, Safety Officers, school administrators and facilities/maintenance directors are encouraged to attend. A registration form is attached.

Burroughs Wellcome Fund Provides Grant Opportunities

The PRISM grant award program provides grants of up to $3,000 to cover the cost of equipment, materials and supplies to implement hands-on, minds-on science and mathematics curriculum in the classroom. Recognizing the need for materials training, additional funding up to $1,500 may be requested for professional development related to the implementation of new equipment or use of materials in the classroom. There are three rounds of funding with application deadlines of March 5 and Sept. 5. For full details, please visit . The Student Science Enrichment Program grant awards support creative, hands-on science education activities for K-12 students. Awards provide up to $180,000 ($60,000/year) over three years to improve primary and secondary students’ competence in science, nurture their enthusiasm for science, and interest them in pursuing careers in research or other science-related areas. The application deadline is April 16. For grant information, please visit .