MESSAGES 2013 :: JANUARY 17, 2013

JANUARY 17, 2013 - Principals' Biweekly Message

With the first semester behind us or nearly behind us, students are taking their first semester end-of-course tests and questions are arising about new assessments. It is important for students and their teachers to understand that we have new assessments because we have new curriculum standards - the Common Core State Standards and North Carolina's own Essential Standards. North Carolina is committed to making sure that students are assessed in a way that aligns with what they are being taught. Also, in some schools teachers are giving the first round of Common Exams (formerly referred to as Measures of Student Learning) to gauge growth for teacher evaluation purposes. These Common Exams are not a part of North Carolina's school accountability program, and it is a local decision regarding how results are used for students. Thank you for everything you do. I know that parents and teachers depend on you for good information.

June Atkinson

In this Biweekly Principals' Message:

  1. State Board Meeting Highlights
  2. New Professional Development Modules for 2012-13
  3. PowerSchool FAQ Available Online
  4. Common Core: Making the Shifts
  5. New Guides Support Common Core State Standards Implementation
  6. Spring Holocaust Teacher Workshops
  7. NC Council for Exceptional Children Schedules Annual Conference for Late January
  8. NC Reading Conference Scheduled for March

State Board Meeting Highlights

Among the items approved by State Board of Education members at their January meeting were the High School Accreditation Framework, Recommendations Considering the Implementation of Virtual Charter Schools and reports to members of the General Assembly regarding Implementation of the ABCs and the Statewide Consolidated Assistance Program, Disadvantaged Student Supplemental Funding, the School Connectivity Initiative, and School Performance Grades. Board members also approved requests for enrollment and/or grade expansion and charter amendments from 11 public charter schools. A summary of Board action items is available online at .

New Professional Development Modules for 2012-13

The NCDPI has released new online modules to provide teachers, administrators and support personnel with flexible, on-demand professional development. Please take time to review the contents of the modules. Individuals, schools or districts are encouraged to implement the new modules in ways that best suit their resources, calendars and local professional development plans. Modules are available through NC Education at . The most recently released modules include: Connecting with Our 21st Century Learners; Digital Literacies in the K-12 Classroom; Introduction to Data Literacy; Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects; North Carolina School Executive Standards and Evaluation Process; and Understanding Young Student Behavior in the Classroom. For more information on the modules and suggestions for school- or district-wide implementation, including best practices and facilitation strategies, please see the 2012-13 Implementation Guide at . If you have questions, please contact Lynne Johnson at

PowerSchool FAQ Available Online

NC public schools are making the transition in 2013 from the NC WISE student information system to PowerSchool, a more modern and easy-to-use tool. New frequently asked questions have been posted about the transition. Please check them out at

Common Core: Making the Shifts

Teachers must have a full understanding of the Common Core State Standards if they are to properly implement them in the classroom, writes Sandra Alberti, director of State and District Partnerships and Professional Development for Student Achievement Partners. In English language arts, this means three shifts, one of which is a greater focus on building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction, besides literature. For math, it means a shift to a deeper focus on a smaller number of topics and a deeper command of mathematical concepts. To read more, please visit .

New Guides Support Common Core State Standards Implementation

Achieve, in partnership with College Summit, the National Association of Secondary School Principals and the National Association of Elementary School Principals, has released a series of action briefs on the role of school counselors, secondary school leaders and elementary school leaders in the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. Based on feedback from school leaders who expressed a need for more guidance, the action briefs outline strategies and techniques that can be used within schools by school leaders to prepare their schools, teachers and students for the standards and upcoming new assessments. The three released action briefs are:

  • Implementing the Common Core State Standards: The Role of the Elementary School Leader Action Brief;
  • Implementing the Common Core State Standards: The Role of the Secondary School Leader Action Brief; and
  • Implementing the Common Core State Standards: The Role of the School Counselor Action Brief.

All are available at no charge in the Publications section at .

Spring Holocaust Teacher Workshops

These one-day, multi-county workshops are for middle and high school social studies and English/Language Arts public school teachers. Workshops presenters include Dr. Karl Schleunes, UNC-G historian and Holocaust scholar, and one of the following Holocaust survivors: Hank Brodt, a Holocaust survivor who recounts his experiences in six concentration camps; Morris Glass, a survivor of Nazi ghettoes and camps including Auschwitz and Dachau; Manfred Katz, a slave laborer in two concentration camps; or Zohara Boyd, a survivor who "hid in plain sight" during the Holocaust. Participants receive a copy of The Holocaust: a North Carolina Teacher's Resource, a guide for teaching about the Holocaust at middle and high school levels. There is no cost to attend the workshop and substitute pay is provided for all teachers attending. Space is limited so prompt registration is encouraged. Workshop dates and locations are as follows: Feb. 11, Lincolnton (Lincoln County); Feb. 20, Lumberton (Robeson County); Feb. 26, Eden (Rockingham County); March 13, Monroe (Union County); and March 22, Morganton (Burke County). For additional information, including registration, please e-mail Linda Scher at .

NC Council for Exceptional Children Schedules Annual Conference for Late January

The North Carolina Council for Exceptional Children Conference will hold their 26th Annual Conference, "Parents as Partners," Jan. 30-Feb. 1 at the Pinehurst Resort, Pinehurst. Conference information, including registration, is available online at

NC Reading Conference Scheduled for March

The NC Reading Conference will be held March 10-12 in Raleigh. This year's conference focuses heavily on Common Core State Standards and teaching/reading strategies for teachers of all grade levels. The conference also features authors like Newbery winner Jack Gantos, Andrea Pinkney, and Steven Layne. Teachers can earn up to 1.5 reading CEUs. Discounted early bird registration is available through Feb. 15. Online registration and conference information are available at .