MESSAGES 2014 :: FEBRUARY 20, 2014

FEBRUARY 20, 2014 - Principals' Biweekly Message

This year has been unusual in the amount of inclement weather days affecting nearly every county in North Carolina, raising the issue of whether days can be waived during this unusual year. Unless laws are changed, the current public school calendar law requires instructional time totaling 185 days or 1,025 hours. While there was once a time, in the 1990s when the State Board of Education had authority to provide additional flexibility under certain circumstances, that was changed in 1998-99 when the fundamentals of the current calendar law were enacted by the General Assembly. You can view general information about school calendars at and the public school law governing calendars at

June Atkinson

In this Biweekly Principals' Message:

  1. Summer Institutes 2014: Sustaining Success
  2. Schools and Districts to Recognize Drivers and Love the Bus in February
  3. February is CTE Month
  4. Third Annual National Digital Learning Day a Success
  5. Joint Early Learning Listserv
  6. Green Ribbon Schools Recognized
  7. Jay Robinson Leadership Award Reminder

Summer Institutes 2014: Sustaining Success

Summer is only four months away! And after four years, we all know what that means: Summer Institutes 2014 will once again be held in all eight regions across the state. Regions 1, 2, 5 and 7 will meet simultaneously on July 7-8, while Regions 3, 4, 6 and 8 will meet simultaneously July 9-10.

This year's theme is "Sustaining Success: Building on Achievement," and we aim to do just that for educators from across the state. The overarching goal of the 2014 Summer Institutes is to provide educators with meaningful professional development that will take them to the next level in READY implementation (Common Core, New Assessments, Educator Effectiveness, Home Base and more). We will accomplish this by:

  • strengthening relationships among local school districts as they continue to plan and execute specific activities and initiatives around Race to the Top work;
  • assisting local school districts in assessing progress with their PD plans; pinpointing challenges that remain; and refining goals that will keep them moving forward in this effort;
  • identifying how the NCDPI can provide resources to address the needs of local school districts in taking the lead and crafting their plans for sustainability as Year 5 of RttT approaches; and
  • effectively capturing and sharing new knowledge derived from best practices among colleagues statewide.

Registration opens on April 1, but we invite our partners across the state to mark their calendars now! Also, we are asking for proposals from those who would like to present. The application for this, along with more information and a new video, is available at the Summer Institutes website, For more information, please contact Cynthia Martin at

Schools and Districts to Recognize Drivers and Love the Bus in February

The wheels on the bus could not go "round and round" without the bus drivers who navigate North Carolina's roads to make sure students get to and from school safely each day. That is why State Superintendent June Atkinson is encouraging parents, teachers, school leaders and students to recognize these drivers during the national Love the Bus month in February. In addition, Gov. Pat McCrory has proclaimed Feb. 10-14 as "School Bus Driver Appreciation Week" in North Carolina and he urges all school communities and citizens to support the Love the Bus program and to recognize the excellence of the state's school bus drivers and their record of safety.

February is CTE Month

February 2014 is Career and Technical Education Month. This year's focus is on Celebrating CTE Superheroes, which provides an opportunity to explore the many amazing accomplishments, achievements and contributions of career and technical education professionals, students and alumni.

For example, nearly 94 percent of North Carolina's CTE Concentrators in the 2013 graduation cohort graduated from high school within four years, according to data submitted to the U.S. Education Department as part of the 2013 NC CTE Consolidated Annual Report (CAR). Concentrators are students who earn four or more credits in a Career Cluster, at least one of which is in a second-level course. Other report highlights found that

  • 82.6 percent of NC secondary CTE participants in 2012-13 met technical attainment standards, which for the first time included earning industry credentials as well as performance on standardized CTE assessments.
  • 81.5 percent of concentrators met the standard for mathematics proficiency in the year they counted in ESEA high school accountability, an increase of 12.8 percent over the performance of the previous year's concentrators.

Overall, NC secondary CTE met or exceeded the federally negotiated targets on seven of the performance indicators reported in the CAR and counted as met on the eighth because performance fell within an acceptable range. LEA results are available on the Local Planning System (, login with username=guest and password=guest, then click on the LEA map to select any district in NC).

Third Annual National Digital Learning Day a Success

North Carolina joined tens of thousands of educators and millions of students from all 50 states and the District of Columbia to celebrate the third annual Digital Learning Day on Wednesday, Feb. 5. Spearheaded by the Alliance for Excellent Education, Digital Learning Day recognizes innovative teaching and common sense, effective applications of education technology that support teachers, improve learning, and help students achieve at their highest potential.

In addition, thousands of state and local events were held throughout the country, including the more than 1,000 local events that educators added to the Digital Learning Day website. North Carolina was 2nd for the number of events posted on the Celebration Map ( By selecting NC on the map, you can scroll to see all the events posted.

Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, said "Digital Learning Day was created to provide all educators-from those who are technology averse to the technology rock stars-with the support and guidance they need to feel comfortable using different types of technology to improve learning in their classrooms."

In addition to the local events, Digital Learning Day included a national showcase event and virtual conference that was broadcast live on the Internet from the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Also highlighted were key initiatives to bring broader adoption of technology into classrooms, including an urgent need to update the federal E-rate program.

Thank you to all educators for helping make North Carolina a top participant this year!

Join Early Learning Listserv

Would you like more information on early learning (PreK-grade 3) issues including professional development opportunities? Then you may want to consider joining the Office of Early Learning e-mail group. Just send an e-mail to the Office of Early Learning PreK-Grade 3 Listserv by cutting and pasting into your "To" box within your e-mail application. Be sure and leave the subject line and the body of the message blank. You will receive a confirmation e-mail once you have successfully subscribed.

Green Ribbon Schools Recognized

Congratulations to Exploris Middle School (Wake County) and Nash-Rocky Mount Schools for recently being selected as Green Ribbon Schools by the NCDPI. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan started the Green Ribbon Schools Recognition Award program in 2011 to recognize schools and districts from across the country for exemplary achievement in the reduction of environmental impact and costs; student and staff health; and a strong environmental education program. Exploris Middle School and Nash-Rocky Mount Schools will represent North Carolina in the national competition. National award recipients will be honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., in July.

Jay Robinson Leadership Award Reminder

Just a quick reminder that March 3 is the deadline to submit nominations for the Jay Robinson Leadership Award. To nominate an educator or a leader in recognition of their contributions to public education, please visit