MESSAGES 2012 :: JULY 19, 2012

JULY 19, 2012 - Principals' Biweekly Message

Last week, USA Today carried an article that noted that nationally many students report being bored at school or that their schoolwork is often or always easy. The new Common Core State Standards in English language arts and mathematics, as well as North Carolina's own new Essential Standards in other subject areas, should help us to address this in cases where this occurs in North Carolina. In August, our state also will learn how the 11th graders performed on the ACT test administration given to all of them for the first time. I hope that this information will help all of us, including parents and community leaders, focus on raising student expectations and helping students better engage with their schoolwork. Although college may not be in every student's future plans, most people in the current economy probably will find a need for some type of training, community college, professional certification or other post-high school education. Our goal is that students will be ready to take advantage of whatever opportunities come their way - even those that are hard to foresee today.

June Atkinson

In this Biweekly Principals' Message:

  1. Liability Insurance for Public School Employees
  2. State Board Meeting Highlights
  3. Repeal of Prohibition of Teacher Prepayment
  4. PowerSchool to Replace NC WISE
  5. Raising Expectations in 2012-13 with the ACT
  6. NC FALCON Recognized
  7. Instructional Improvement System (IIS) Update
  8. K-2 Mathematics Assessments
  9. 2012 PAEMST Finalists Announced
  10. School Flag Program
  11. Scholarship Opportunity
  12. "Building America Through Core Democratic Values"

Liability Insurance for Public School Employees

In compliance with HB 950, within 60 days of the effective date of the budget signing, LEAs and charter schools have the responsibility of notifying all employees about the coverage provided by the state-funded liability insurance policy for North Carolina public school employees. Employees must be notified in writing.

Excess Professional Liability coverage is provided to all employees up to $1 million per occurrence with a $1 million aggregate. Coverage for consultation with an attorney regarding violation of professional or employment related right is provided at $2,500 per claim, subject to a $5,000 aggregate per employee, per policy year. Reasonable and necessary attorneys fees and costs incurred by an employee arising from a criminal proceeding alleging a criminal act was committed within the professional activities of an employee are covered up to $50,000. Employee must be found "not guilty" of all criminal charges.

Employees are encouraged to visit (click on Professional Liability Policy) for a copy of the insurance contract.

Employees are encouraged to visit for information about this state-funded program. This website includes information on how to file a claim.

Liability Insurance for Public School Employees is provided to all employees, including volunteers of public and charter schools. There is no fee or premium charge to employees.

For additional information or questions, please contact Eileen Townsend, chief of Insurance, Department of Public Instruction, at 919.807.3522.

State Board Meeting Highlights

At last Wednesday's abbreviated State Board of Education meeting, members approved the proposed temporary waiver of the paid employment graduation requirement under the Future-Ready Occupational Course of Study, the proposed evaluation rubric for speech-language pathologists, calendar waivers for educational purposes, program approval requests under the Innovative Education Initiatives Act, and the alternative learning program application. Board members discussed North Carolina extended content standards for high school social studies, ACT and WorkKeys Benchmarks under the High School Accountability Model, and extended learning opportunities. A summary of Board action items is available online at

Repeal of Prohibition of Teacher Prepayment

House Bill 966 (Session Law 2012-13), signed into law by Governor Perdue, repeals House Bill 720, Section 5, that prohibited teacher salary prepayment, effective July 1, 2012. A repeal also was included in both the House and Senate budgets, so it appears that there will not be any legislation in contradiction to the recently passed HB 966. As a result, there will be no new requirements related to teacher salary, and teachers shall receive a full month's salary by Aug. 31. Please help spread the word regarding this change. If you have questions, please contact Andrew Cox at or 919.807.3708.

PowerSchool to Replace NC WISE

Earlier this month, the NCDPI received permission from State Information Technology Services to move forward with sole-sourcing procurement of PowerSchool, a student information system developed by Pearson. This move was made in large part because NC WISE is 14 years old and due for an upgrade to ensure that it works well with current technology and eventually the new Instructional Improvement System currently under development.

PowerSchool brings a number of significant advantages to North Carolina:

  • Offers more local control regarding the modules districts and charters use. These modules include parent and student portals.
  • Designed to give users flexibility of access through mobile devices and includes specialized applications created with mobile devices in mind.
  • Designed with the convenience of users in mind and extensive training will be provided with the software.

The Department's goal is to move from NC WISE to PowerSchool over the next 18 months. The aggressive timeline is reasonable given that Pearson already owns the aal software that currently powers NC WISE. Also, the transition to PowerSchool will not fundamentally change the roles that teachers and others currently have under NC WISE. As such, the transition to PowerSchool should be fairly smooth and require less change management than staff encountered in moving to NC WISE.

The Department remains committed to creating as little disruption to districts and schools as possible while moving to a modern student information system that works with current technology and devices.

Raising Expectations in 2012-13 with the ACT

In the 2012-13 school year, educators will be teaching the new Standard Course of Study. The new standards (Common Core State Standards and Essential Standards) will require more of our students than ever before, which is critical because tomorrow's world will exact the same. Part of next year's increased expectations includes administering the ACT test to every qualified high school junior and using the results as part of the new READY school accountability model. A one-pager on the ACT describing why we are giving the ACT assessment to every 11th grader and what to expect about the initial results is available online at

NC FALCON Recognized

Author and researcher Nancy Gerzon will be recognizing North Carolina for its work with Formative Assessment through NC FALCON. Gerzon is currently writing a book that will involve case studies of schools that are implementing formative assessment school-wide. She is seeking schools that meet one or more of several criteria including the use of classroom formative assessment practice and eligibility for Title I. Stay tuned for more information regarding which schools are selected for consideration for inclusion in Gerzon's upcoming book.

Instructional Improvement System (IIS) Update

The Instructional Improvement System (IIS) will facilitate the teaching process by providing all North Carolina districts and schools with increased access to high quality resources, and timely and relevant information and data to improve instruction. The IIS will provide specific information for teachers, administrators and parents to pinpoint student progress during any segment of time. We expect to announce the name of the vendor chosen to provide the technology solution for the new IIS in early fall.

In the meantime, learn more about the IIS vision from a student's perspective in a video available online at . Additional information on the IIS is available online at . Send all questions or comments about the IIS to or contact Sarah McManus at

K-2 Mathematics Assessment

In response to North Carolina legislative and State Board requirements, the NCDPI provides LEAs with state-developed assessments to be implemented for kindergarten, first and second grades. These assessments include documented, ongoing individualized assessments throughout the year and a summative evaluation at the end of the year. LEAs may use these assessment instruments as presented, adaptations of them, or adopt unique assessments. The newly revised K-2 Mathematics Formative Assessment Tasks and the K-2 Mathematics Administration Manual are available online at .

A mid-year benchmark assessment and end-of-year summative assessment will be provided directly to district directors in early fall. Due to the low number of Observation Profile cards ordered by districts over the last two years, the Profile Cards are no longer at the top of the most needed deliverables. However, student and class documentation forms are provided for the Formative Assessment Tasks and will be provided for the mid-year and end-of-year assessments. For additional information, please contact Barbara Bissell at or Amy Scrinzi at .

2012 PAEMST Finalists Announced

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching are the nation's highest honor for mathematics and science teachers. Administered for the White House by the National Science Foundation, this national award allows outstanding mathematics and science teachers to be recognized for their subject area content knowledge and their ability to motivate students. The 2012 awards are for K-6 teachers. Congratulations to the following North Carolina public school teachers for being named 2012 PAEMST finalists: Mathematics Finalists: Tonya Kepley, Enochville Elementary (Rowan-Salisbury Schools), Kayonna Pitchford, Stoney Point Elementary (Cumberland County Schools), and Meredith Stanley, Haw Creek Elementary (Buncombe County Schools); Science Finalists: Kristin Bedell, Efland Cheeks Elementary (Orange County Schools), Teresa Cowan, Charles D. Owen Middle (Buncombe County Schools) and Georgina Ray, Joe P. Eblen Intermediate (Buncombe County Schools).

School Flag Program

Does your school participate in the School Flag Program (also known as the Air Quality Flag Program)? If it does, then the US Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards wants to know. They would like to include your school on the EPA website. Schools on the list also will receive an official U.S. Environmental Protection Agency certificate that recognizes your efforts to protect children's health. Please contact Laura Jackman at 919.541.9720 if your school participates. If you are unfamiliar with the School Flag Program and would like to learn more, visit .

Scholarship Opportunity

The North Carolina Technology Association (NCTA) is now accepting applications for its newly launched Betsy Y. Justus NCTA Founder's Scholarship. Betsy Justus was NCTA's founding CEO, a pioneer among women in technology, and a North Carolina leader. Upon her passing in summer 2011, NCTA raised initial funds to support an annual scholarship in her name. The $1,000 grant is available to women and girls in North Carolina who plan to pursue a post-secondary academic path in the STEM fields. Criteria and instructions are outlined on the application form available online at The application deadline is July 31.

"Building America Through Core Democratic Values"

The International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro is sponsoring an educational exhibit targeted at fourth, eighth and 11th grade social studies students. "Building America through Core Democratic Values" will engage students in "a dynamic exploration of core democratic values that were operative in the creation of our cities, the evolution of this state and the building of our nation." Such values will be expressed through important documents such as the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, patriotic songs, vital speeches and themed works of art. A centerpiece of the exhibit is "The Battlegrounds," which spans 16 galleries and explores the African American experience, specifically the struggle to end a racially based caste system, through audio/video narratives, pictorials, artifacts, vintage newsreel footage, video re-enactments, and other interactive components. The educational exhibit will run through the 2014-15 school year. For more information on the museum and exhibits, please visit . For information regarding tours, please contact April Sharpe at