MESSAGES 2013 :: MAY 2, 2013

MAY 2, 2013 - Principals' Biweekly Message

When there are nearly 95,000 people involved in any endeavor, it is a challenge to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Lately, I've heard several people mistakenly say that the assessments that students will take during the testing window this spring are based on the "old" Standard Course of Study rather than being based on the new standards that began in 2012-13. In fact, students will be taking assessments (end-of-grade, end-of-course) that are aligned to the new Standard Course of Study. For that reason, we will not know the new achievement level score ranges until late summer-fall as we will be going through the standards-setting process once all the student test forms are completed. We have experienced similar processes at other times when new assessments were put into place. We also must factor into the released results the General Assembly's A-F Accountability legislation when it is passed. Related to this, results of the new school accountability model and the annual School Report Cards will be delayed until October-January. More schedule details will be shared as they develop, but I thought it worth repeating these facts about this year's student testing and school accountability programs.

June Atkinson

In this Biweekly Principals' Message:

  1. State Board Meeting Highlights
  2. Greetings from the 2013 Wells Fargo NC Principal of the Year
  3. Roster Verification Window Open to Teachers
  4. Last Call for Middle School Principals to Complete Physical Activity Survey
  5. Summer Institutes 2013 Info and Video
  6. NCVPS Approves Courses from Online Vendors
  7. Guilford County Teacher Named 2013 Burroughs Wellcome Fund NC Teacher of the Year
  8. The Shelton Challenge

State Board Meeting Highlights

Among the items this morning approved by State Board members were Criteria for Endorsements to High School Diplomas, Race to the Top Career Readiness and College Course Completion Performance Measures, and Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program applicants for 2013-14. Members discussed Proposed Standards, Rubrics and Users Guides for the Evaluation of Allied Health Service Professionals; Career and Technical Education Licensure Requirements; and a report from Duke University's Terry Sanford School of Public Policy Semester Project on Strategies for Compensating North Carolina's Teachers. A summary of all Board action items will be available online at by Friday noon.

Greetings from the 2013 Wells Fargo NC Principal of the Year

Thank you for the opportunity to share my adventures this year. My selection as the 2013 Wells Fargo NC Principal of the Year was a shock to say the least. If you look online at the accolades earned by each Regional Principal of the Year, you will surely see that all were worthy of the state award. These are the people that really make schools work throughout the state, and there are many more like them across all of our school districts.

To be honest, I found myself to be very uncomfortable with the recognition that day, and that really hasn't gotten better since as my selection has been celebrated by everyone in my home district. I find myself constantly deflecting the congratulations towards my teachers and students. No one really trains principals how to accept praise! It has really been unexpectedly difficult to just say "thank you" when someone offers some recognition, but I don't want to belittle the award, so I am trying to get better at that. It is a great honor, and it is a great feeling to know that other people think you are doing a great job and doing things the right way.

The one thing I hope to gain from this experience is a voice in the decision-making process regarding the future and vision for public education in our state. I believe in the importance of public education. I also believe in parents having choices for their children. However, parents can have choices without having to cut down the foundations of public education. I want to gain an understanding of what our state legislature's vision is for public education. I am hoping that it is different than what it is perceived to be after looking at the rhetoric and decision-making of the last few years. I want to partner with them, the state school board, and anyone else willing to listen to what things look like on the ground level in a rural middle school in Beaufort County; a place that is a long ways from what you see outside of your window in Raleigh.

I hope to be able to visit other school systems and schools, talk to staff about how current policies and political rhetoric are affecting their schools and teachers, and bring that message to the decision-makers in Raleigh. No one that knows me personally or professionally would ever accuse me of being a politician. I can tend towards bluntness sometimes, and I am definitely more comfortable with reality than theory.

With that said, the reality is that public education must evolve and change to meet the needs of the public better and more quickly than we have in the past. We have to be more customer-driven; we have to stay on the path of continuous improvement; and we have to adapt quicker to better meet the needs of all of our students. The reality of that is that it isn't cheap. It requires commitment from educators, parents, and all other stakeholders, including legislators. We need more counselors to meet the ever-growing human needs our students are bringing with them to school. We need testing coordinators at many of our elementary and middle schools to handle the avalanche of state assessment requirements that have been placed on our counselors in many cases. We need a device in the hands of every student with access to a powerful, interactive software that both teaches and assesses student mastery in all subject areas and all grades, and we need the bandwidth at every school to run it. These things aren't cheap, but I believe that if you truly want to see what is important to people that you should always follow the money. I, for one, would much rather see my tax money going to educate young people than a lot of other things.

I hope to be a voice for this and all other issues dear to educators during my tenure as the NC Principal of the Year. - Dale Cole, 2013 Wells Fargo NC Principal of the Year and Chocowinity Middle School principal, Beaufort County Schools.

Roster Verification Window Open to Teachers

The Roster Verification window opened for teachers this week. Resources are available to assist principals, teachers and district administrators with the Roster Verification process. Resources include virtual training sessions, quick start guides, FAQs, sample scenarios and videos. These resources are available online at and on the SAS EVAAS website at .

Last Call for Middle School Principals to Complete Physical Activity Survey

Monday, May 6, is the last day to complete the survey to help evaluate physical activity in middle schools since passage of the Healthy Active Children policy. Middle school principals are asked to complete this survey if they have not done so already. A pediatrician at ECU is conducting the survey in partnership with the State Board and the NCDPI. Please visit /SE/?SID=SV_eV4CJjcT92R7cCp and provide your input so we can maximize what is learned from this effort.

Summer Institutes 2013 Info and Video

Registration for the NCDPI Summer Institutes 2013 ends tomorrow, April 30. This year's Summer Institutes will be held between July 8 and 24 in Charlotte, Greenville, Durham, Greensboro, Henderson County and Cumberland County. Please make sure that your school is well represented. The registration links and more information have been posted to . You also can check out the Summer Institutes 2013 video at . If you have any questions, please contact Michael Yarbrough at

NCVPS Approves Courses from Online Vendors

At the direction of the NC General Assembly (SB 200), the NC Virtual Public School provides a virtual course approval process in order to ensure the availability of high quality online courses for use by schools and districts. The process only applies to teacher-led online courses taken for first time credit. Courses are evaluated based on course quality and teacher quality using the International Association for K-12 Online Learning National Standards for Quality and Southern Regional Education Board Standards for Quality Online Learning. In addition, content experts from NCDPI's Curriculum and Instruction Division review courses for alignment to the NC Standard Course of Study. After an extensive review of course and teacher quality, the following courses were approved for use by North Carolina districts and schools: AP Psychology (Vendor: Apex Learning) and Algebra I (Vendor: Edgenuity). For more information, please visit or contact Don Lourcey at

Guilford County Teacher Named 2013 Burroughs Wellcome Fund NC Teacher of the Year

Congratulations to Karyn Dickerson, an English teacher at Grimsley High School (Guilford County Schools) who this afternoon was named the 2013-14 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year. In making the presentation, State Superintendent June Atkinson said Dickerson is an inspiring example of the teachers leading North Carolina public school classrooms. "Karyn encourages her students to think for themselves and provides them with numerous opportunities for open discussion and cooperative learning. These are valuable skills that will serve them well in further education and in their careers." As Teacher of the Year, Dickerson will spend the next school year traveling the state as an ambassador for the teaching profession. She will receive a number of gifts including an automobile to use during her tenure, a $7,500 cash award, the opportunity to travel aboard and an $11,000 technology package. She also will serve as an advisor to the State Board of Education for two years.

The Shelton Challenge

High school principals are asked to share the following information with school counselors. The Shelton Challenge is offered to rising ninth through twelfth grade youth with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. The program is an intense 5½ day experience for youth who are current leaders and aspire to be greater leaders in the future. Youth will explore areas of values-based leadership, integrity, team building, public speaking, and social responsibility. Location of the Challenges will be at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. The approximate cost is $575. For complete information, including Challenge dates and an application, please visit