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Turning Around North Carolina’s Lowest-Achieving Schools (TALAS)
In 2010, North Carolina earned one of 12 Race to the Top (RttT) grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Education. In part, these funds have been available to stimulate and strengthen states’ efforts to turn around their lowest achieving schools. In its successful application, North Carolina’s detailed a plan to scale up support for its lowest-achieving schools by leveraging RttT funds to significantly expand its successful turnaround and transformation work already underway across the state. With this award, North Carolina is able to enhance the efforts of the Agency’s District and School Transformation division to implement a comprehensive program that targets low performing-schools and responds to state and federal legislation and requirements, as well as North Carolina’s own judicial and executive direction.

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Race to the Top Schools and Districts
North Carolina’s TALAS initiative targets the bottom 5% of elementary, middle and high schools, all of which have performance composites below 60% (based on 2009-10 data). The performance composite score for a school is the proportion of students’ scores on state end-of course and end-of-grade assessments that are at or above proficiency. TALAS also targets high schools with graduation rates below 60%. As can be seen in the table above, a total of 118 schools met one of these two criteria. In addition, District and School Transformation works with the lowest 10% of districts in the state.

Race to the Top’s TALAS Initiative
Receipt of the Race to the Top award has enabled the Department of Public Instruction to build on the success of its turnaround and transformation efforts as it transitions to the U.S. Department of Education reform models: turnaround, restart, closure and transformation. North Carolina G.S,. 115C-105.37 aligns the work of NCDPI with these models by authorizing the State Board of Education to approve requests from local boards of education to reform low-performing schools by using the transformation, restart, turnaround or school closure model.