MESSAGES 2012 :: AUGUST 16, 2012

AUGUST 16, 2012 - Principals' Biweekly Message

Over the past few weeks, North Carolina has been recognized for work in which you and your staff have played important roles, and I want to share that news with you. First, Harvard recently published a study (available online at that indicates North Carolina is one of six states that have posted the greatest achievement for each incremental dollar spent on education. I know that this is probably a fact that does not surprise you given all of the work that you have been doing to be as efficient and effective as possible, but I wanted to share this external validation with you.

Also, the NCDPI has been cited for excellence in instruction and outreach by the national education advocacy organization Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21). P21 is a national organization that advocates for 21st century readiness for every student through support of local, state and federal policies that provide resources for educators. P21's Educational Support Systems and Intentional Design Award went to the NCDPI for the READY Outreach Meetings that were held across the state earlier this year. Most of you participated in a three-hour regional sessions between Feb. 28 and March 23. The Recognition of Achievement in 21st Century Education John Wilson Award also was presented to NCDPI for the North Carolina Virtual Public School (NCVPS) Occupational Course of Study (OCS) Blended Learning Program. NCDPI, primarily through the Division of Exceptional Children, partnered with the NCVPS to create the OCS Blended Learning Program. This highly successful initiative pairs an NCVPS content teacher with a face-to-face OCS classroom teacher to provide blended instruction to OCS students across the state. Thank you for your partnership with us in these important initiatives.

June Atkinson

In this Biweekly Principals' Message:

  1. Eligibility Guidelines for Free or Reduced-Price Meals in the National School Lunch Program Announced
  2. IIS Resource Consortium Update
  3. NC Receives Grant to Cover AP/IB Test Fees for Eligible Students
  4. New School Year Brings Many Firsts for NC Public Schools
  5. Greetings from 2012 Wells Fargo NC Principal of the Year
  6. NC Educator Evaluation Online Tool Updated to Include New Webinars
  7. 2012 Report on Education Legislation Available
  8. Home School Enrollment Decreases
  9. Students Honored at National SkillsUSA Championships
  10. Travel Grants to NC Museum of History Available for Fall 2012

Eligibility Guidelines for Free or Reduced-Price Meals in the National School Lunch Program Announced

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction recently announced the 2012-13 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) policy for free and reduced-price meals for children enrolled in North Carolina's public schools. The USDA's school meals programs help ensure all students have access to nutritious meals at school. For more information, including the federal income eligibility guidelines and responses to the most frequently asked questions, please visit the NCDPI website at and click on the appropriate link under "News."

IIS Resource Consortium Update

To prepare for the Instructional Improvement System (IIS), LEAs/charter schools are working together in the IIS Resource Consortium (IIS RC) to gather local resources (e.g., unit plans, assessment items) that can be shared statewide through the IIS. The Consortium is comprised of members from all eight educational regions, representing small, medium and large LEAs/charter schools.

On July 31, the IIS Resource Consortium participated in a productive work session at the NCDPI. The IIS RC is charged with gathering resources from LEAs/charter schools for input to the IIS in four focus areas: instruction/learning, assessment, professional development and talent management/educator evaluation. The resources will be vetted and then published and made available in the IIS. Discussion about defining and developing a standard vetting process at the local level for resources was a key agenda item for the meeting. This process will ensure consistency in quality and alignment as well as provide an opportunity for peer review prior to submitting the resources for the IIS. The IIS RC work plan calls for an initial set of LEA/charter school resources that will be among a pool of resources to be ready and available for the IIS pilots scheduled for early 2013.

According to Jason Atkinson, LEA chair for the IIS RC from Hoke County Schools, "Members of the IIS RC are committed to ensuring the success and integrity of such a worthwhile and valuable tool for all stakeholders. The spirit of collaboration and professionalism in our first face-to-face meeting was amazing. Through this, we know that our efforts will make a difference as we provide a repository of resources to meet our ultimate goal: all NC high school students will graduate college and career ready and become productive citizens of our state, nation, and world!'" Please email, or contact LaVerne Weldon at for additional information about the IIS RC.

NC Receives Grant to Cover AP/IB Test Fees for Eligible Students

Thanks to a grant and supplemental funds from the U.S. Department of Education, every eligible North Carolina high school student who took an Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) exam last year will have his or her test fees covered. As a part of the federal Advanced Placement Test Fee Program, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction received more than $800,000 to cover AP and IB test fees for all low-income students who qualified during the 2011-12 school year.

New School Year Brings Many Firsts for NC Public Schools

North Carolina public schools will put their best foot forward this school year as the state's READY initiative is launched in every classroom. The READY initiative provides students and educators with new curriculum standards, new student assessments, a new school accountability model and new educator effectiveness support. This is the first time that the state has changed all of these components simultaneously in a comprehensive way, kindergarten through 12th grade. To read more about all these changes, please visit and click on the appropriate link under "News."

Greetings from 2012 Wells Fargo NC Principal of the Year

Hello colleagues! It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to a new school year. As educators you know your school year with be filled with joy, challenges, laughter and most importantly students. These students will come to you on a range of academic levels and needs, but they all will need your support and guidance. As principal of the year for our state, I look forward to meeting and working with a number of you over the new year. This year will be exciting with common core, essential standards, and our new accountability model. Personally, I am excited about the new changes and believe the common core will bring a new level of rigor and relevance to our state curriculum. The accountability model is one that I think we all will agree provides a much-needed emphasis on career readiness and growth.

You may know that as North Carolina Principal of the Year I have the opportunity of serving as an advisor on our State Board of Education. At the present time I have had attended two meetings. However, with these two meetings it is very clear that our State Board members listen to concerns and constantly focus on what is best for all North Carolina students. I am very impressed with their dedication and focus on doing what is right for students. We are in good hands.

Educators, whether you are in one of our urban districts or a smaller rural district, we all are aware of the power a leader has to change the lives of teachers, students and parents. Therefore, if no one has told you lately, YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE! Have a great year and I look forward to sharing with you my state experiences throughout the year. I want to say thank you for all you do for our North Carolina students.

In closing, those of you who truly know me know I love to talk about my school. Therefore, I am sure you enjoyed the Olympics. As the new principal of Page High School, I have to make note that two former students from Page represented our country with great pride, with one taking home gold in women's rowing. Go Pirates!!! - Patrice Faison, 2012 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year

NC Educator Evaluation Online Tool Updated to Include New Webinars

The NC Educator Evaluation online tool has been updated for the 2012-13 school year. Educators will find a list of the updates and some screenshots on the front page of the NCEES wiki at . In addition, we are offering webinars on tips and strategies for getting started in the online tool (click on Upcoming Webinars under Learning Resources). The webinars are offered multiple times so choose the time that best fits your schedule. These webinars are for central office staff, principals and teachers. Please feel free to share the links with colleagues.

2012 Report on Education Legislation Available

Do you have questions about recent legislation affecting public education? If so, your answer may be found in the 2012 Report on Education Legislation now available online at The book includes summaries of all legislation affecting public schools, including individual bills, special provisions of the budget, and the "money report." The book serves as a reference for legislation that will be codified until revised editions of the statutes are available. Some legislation will remain only in this form as session laws and will not be codified so it is important to keep copies of bills. The 206-page document also is available in bound form with tabs from the NCDPI's Communications division for $22.50. To order, please call NCDPI Publications Sales at 919.807.3470.

Home School Enrollment Decreases

The N.C. Division of Non-Public Education recently reported that while the number of home schools increased in 2011-12, student enrollment decreased. According to the DPNE's annual home school statistical report, the total number of home schools operating for the 2011-12 school year increased by 5.39 percent to 47,977 and the estimated student population decreased by 4.69 percent to 79,693. There are several possible reasons for the decrease in the estimated student enrollment, including: a) the accuracy of the total number of active home schools, b) the larger sample size available this year than in previous years, and c) the accuracy of enrollment numbers disclosed by home school chief administrators. For more information on home schools, please visit and click on "Home Schools" and then on "State of North Carolina Home School Statistics."

Students Honored at National SkillsUSA Championships

Thirty-one North Carolina high school students recently won awards at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference. Industry leaders representing over 1,100 businesses, corporations, trade associations and unions recognized the students for their demonstrated excellence in 94 hands-on occupational and leadership contests, such as robotics, criminal justice, aviation maintenance and public speaking. All contests are designed, run and judged by industry using industry standards. Top student winners received gold, silver and bronze medallions. Many also received prizes such as tools of their trade and/or scholarships to further their careers and education. For more information, including award recipients, please visit and click on the appropriate link under "News."

Travel Grants to NC Museum of History Available for Fall 2012

The North Carolina Museum of History is pleased to announce that travel grants are available this fall to help cover school group transportation to Raleigh and the NC Museum of History. Title I schools and other schools with high percentages of low-income or at-risk students will receive priority. For more information on how to apply for a travel grant and to receive a grant application, please contact Debra Nichols at or 919.807.7986. Early application is encouraged. All grant applications must be received by Dec 1. Reservations are required for groups of 10 or more. To schedule group tours, visit For more information, visit the museum's website at