MESSAGES 2012 :: MARCH 15, 2012

MARCH 15, 2012 - Principals' Biweekly Message

For those of you who have participated in the READY regional outreach meetings in Greensboro, Elizabeth City, Wilmington, Fayetteville, Raleigh and Hickory this month, thank you! For principals in Regions 6 and 8, we look forward to seeing you over the next week as our tour heads to your regions. It has been a great month of meeting with you and your colleagues and teacher leaders in North Carolina.

This is the first time since the ABCs began in the mid-1990s that we have had statewide principals' meetings. Our goal with this outreach effort is to support communication efforts so that our state's educators and parents know about the new Essential Standards and Common Core, about the state's new accountability model, and about our vision for making sure that our students are READY for college, careers and life.

One of the activities that we have done at these meetings is to gather questions from participants. Those questions are being collected and a Q&A document is being prepared to share. Also, we have asked each group to think about how they plan to communicate about the READY initiative in their schools and in their community. Some of the activities that you and your colleagues have named include: professional learning communities, special school town-hall meetings, parent meetings, newsletter, Twitter, websites and more. We will continue to develop additional communication resources to supplement these efforts. Also, please participate in one of the April Q&A webinars to allow you to ask additional questions that you may have. A special invitation will be sent to you by early April with webinar registration links.

June Atkinson

In this Biweekly Principals' Message:

  1. Comments Sought on K-12 Environmental Health Program Guidelines
  2. Teacher Working Conditions: School Information Packet Delivery
  3. Next Generation Assessments: Why Online?
  4. Next Generation Assessments: Benefits of Online Assessments
  5. Teachers Showcased in NC FALCON Session

Comments Sought on K-12 Environmental Health Program Guidelines

As a reminder, the EPA has recently released a DRAFT version of its "K-12 School Environmental Health Program Guidelines." Public comments are being accepted through April 13. To view and comment on the guidelines, please visit contact Cyndy Merse at to discuss.

Teacher Working Conditions: School information Packet Delivery

NCAE representatives will receive information regarding the Teacher Working Conditions Survey within the next two weeks. Every school will receive a package and, for schools without an NCAE representative, packages will be addressed to the principal. Principals, please give the packets to a teacher leader in your school for dissemination. Posters, access code information, help desk information and resource guides are included in the packets. More information may be found online at .

Next Generation Assessments: Why online?

North Carolina has provided online assessments since 2005 when the administration of the computer skills test was completely online. The goal is that by 2014-15, all assessments will be administered online; this includes a new generation of assessments for grades 3-8 and high school subjects, as well as the SMARTER Balanced Assessments that will be online in 2014-15. Moving to an online delivery of assessments aligns with efforts already underway to provide online instructional resources, online formative and benchmark assessments, and online training and professional development for teachers. One other important reason that North Carolina plans to transition to online assessments is to take advantage of computer adaptive testing. As a governing member in the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium, North Carolina plans to adopt the common assessments developed by the consortium, which are being designed in a computer adaptive format. A brief overview of the latest information on North Carolina's online assessments can be found at . For more information on the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium, please visit . Questions on online assessments may also be directed to Kayla Siler at

Next Generation Assessments: Benefits of Online Assessments

There are several benefits to administering assessments online versus paper and pencil. By moving to online assessments, we can offer assessments that are increasingly multi-part, media-enhanced, performance-based, and better representative of the depth intended in the new standards. Another benefit is the availability of Computer Reads Test Aloud – Student Controlled accommodation for eligible students. The online assessments also offer several universal design features such as larger font sizes, and adjustable background colors. Additional benefits include: universal design, virtual highlighter and calculator, flexible scheduling/staffing, storage space, test security, reporting and cost effectiveness. To learn more about the benefits and timeline for transitioning to online assessments, please visit or contact Kayla Siler at

Teachers showcased in NC FALCON session

Classroom teachers who are implementing the formative assessment process will showcase their work during an NC FALCON showcase session at the Collaborative Conference on Student Achievement in Greensboro on March 20. During the session, presenters will share implementation ideas, artifacts collected during their implementation, and formative assessment plans they have developed and used in classes. Join the following teachers to learn more about their implementation of formative assessment:

  • Amanda Horne - Gray's Creek Elementary School, Cumberland County
  • Miranda Bring - Tyro Elementary School, Davidson County
  • Kenzie Cheek - Silver Valley Elementary School, Davidson County
  • Loryn Morrison - District Lead Teacher, Davidson County
  • Leslie Carriker - Dudley High School, Guilford County
  • Kerry Stewart - Instructional Coach, Henderson County
  • Lynne Fender - School Improvement Specialist, Henderson County
  • Donna Hall - Hickory High School, Catawba County
  • Pat Widdowson - Assistant Superintendent, Surry County
  • Jennifer Scott - Director of Professional Development and Communication, Surry County
  • Brenda Whitaker - Director of Federal Programs, Surry County
  • Jan Varney - Principal, Dobson Elementary School, Surry County
  • Nicole Hazlewood - Dobson Elementary School, Surry County
  • Lori Beasley - Dobson Elementary School, Surry County
  • Ashley Eggleston - East Millbrook Magnet Middle, Wake County
  • Jessica Palmer-Gwaltney - East Millbrook Magnet Middle, Wake County
  • Daniel Sluder - North Wilkes High School, Wilkes County
  • Michael Greene - North Wilkes High School, Wilkes County