Common Core Elimination Bill Moves Forward

The Common Core curriculum standards that dictate what’s taught in grade school classrooms across the state are on their way out.

Gov. Pat McCrory signaled that he would sign a compromise bill that the House passed Wednesday and Senate signed off on it last week. The House approved the bill, 71-34, to rewrite the statewide curriculum to better tailor it for North Carolina students.

“I will sign this bill because it does not change any of North Carolina’s education standards,” McCrory said in a written statement. “It does initiate a much-needed, comprehensive and thorough review of standards. No standards will change without the approval of the State Board of Education.”

Both chambers had competing bills on how to change the state’s curriculum, but came to a compromise that allowed the state to potentially use some materials from the Common Core program that are effective.

The bill “melds the two versions quite well,” said Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union. “We are not taking anything off the table from the standpoint of being able to access the best ideas in the country to ensure that we have high academic standards.”

The bill directs the State Board of Education to rewrite the Common Core standards for the state’s K-12 standards. A new standards advisory commission would be formed to make curriculum recommendations to the board. The bill does not bar the commission or State Board from integrating current Common Core standards with the new ones. The commission would be made up of 11 members, some appointed by legislative leaders, one by the governor and others by the State Board of Education.

Common Core, which schools began testing two years ago, would remain in place until the new standards are completed.

The curriculum standards were developed by the nation’s governors and school chiefs and have been approved by more than 40 states. But North Carolina and a handful of other states are responding to complaints from teachers, parents and conservative advocates that the standards are causing confusion and leading to the use of curriculum that is age-inappropriate.

The state Chamber of Commerce said Wednesday they support the curriculum rewrite and that it brings predictability and certainty to education in the state.

“This is a significant step toward a reasonable approach to make standards higher and our top priority is pushing for the absolute best academic standards for the state,” said Lew Ebert, president and CEO of the North Carolina Chamber, in a statement.

Educators and families on both sides of the aisle have been complaining about Common Core and ask that it be replaced, said Rep. Michael Speciale, R-Craven.

“The bottom line is it’s a terrible system. There may be some good things about it and though this bill will allow them to sue those things if they need to,” he said. “It’s not something we should have ever accepted.”

Rep. Tricia Cotham, D-Mecklenburg, said repealing the rules is a solution in search of a problem, sends a bad signal and puts an unfair burden on schools, teachers and parents, who already invested and trained with Common Core.

“Why are we really doing this?” she said. “Is this really to better education or is this more political in nature? I worry that this is more political.”

Chapel Hill-Carrboro Teaching Chair Awards

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Public School Foundation has announced this year’s winners of the 2014 Teaching Chair Awards. These awards represent the Public School Foundation’s way of acknowledging the impact these educators have had on the community and the students they teach. The teachers were selected to be awarded by a committee of parents, students, administrators, teachers, and Foundation Board members and selected the top candidate for each one.

Ashley Lang of East Chapel Hill High received the Bernadine Sullivan Chair for Excellence in Teaching High School English or Social Studies.

Ashley Laver of Rashkis Elementary School earned the Sockwell Chair for Excellence in Teaching Primary Grades (PreK-2).

Katherine Pardue of Phillips Middle School won the Burton Stuart Chair for Promising New Teachers in Math or Science.

Danae Shipp of McDougle Middle School was awarded the GlaxoSmithKline Chair for Excellence in Teaching Middle School Science or Math.

Jack Watson of Chapel Hill High was presented with PTA Chair for Excellence in Teaching Cultural Arts.

Candace White of Glenwood Elementary School achieved the Neil Pedersen Teachers First Chair for Excellence in Classroom Technology.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Public School Foundation offers its congratulations to these teachers for their outstanding contributions to the educational experiences students of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.

Education Town Hall: Salary

Four North Carolina legislators will hear the financial concerns of educators and members of the community Monday night at Culbreth Middle School.

Senator Valerie Foushee, Representative Verla Insko, Representative Graig Meyer, and Representative Jon Hardister will be in attendance.

Assistant Professor of Law at UNC, Deborah Gerhardt, and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools PTA Council President, Jeff Hall, spoke with Ron Stutts on the WCHL Monday Morning News about the town hall meeting.

***Listen to the Interview***

Schools Closings and Power Outages

Due to hazardous travel conditions (downed trees and power lines) and wide spread power outages that remain, two school districts remain closed Monday:

Orange County Schools (optional teacher work day)

Alamance Burlington Schools


Duke Energy and Piedmont Electric continue to work to restore power to the area. To see the outage make for Duke Energy, click here; for Piedmont Electric, click here.

Gov. McCrory Announces Raise For Incoming Teachers

JAMESTOWN, NC – Governor Pat McCrory and other state leaders announced a plan Monday morning to increase starting teachers’ salaries nearly 14 percent in the next two years, but no immediate increase was mentioned for teaching professionals already in place.

This year, starting teacher pay will increase $2,200 to $33,000; next year an additional $2,000 will be added taking salaries to $35,000.

Supplemental pay for teachers who completed their coursework for their Master’s degrees has been extended up until July 1, 2013 as well.

However, there was no discussion of raising teachers’ salaries for those who are just getting their start.

The announcement to raise incoming teachers’ salaries $4,200 in the next two years was made at Gov. McCrory’s former high school, Ragsdale, with Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, Senate Leader Phil Berger, and House Speaker Thom Tillis in attendance.

PACE Academy Renewal Denied By State Board Of Ed.

RALEIGH – The charter for PACE Academy in Carrboro was denied renewal Thursday in a unanimous vote by the North Carolina State Board of Education.

“The charter would expire June 30, 2014, so they would be able to complete this school year but not be open for next school year,” says Joel Medley, director of the Office of Charter Schools.

PACE Academy opened in 2004 to serve high school students with learning disabilities or behavioral problems who have not succeeded at traditional schools. More than half of the 169 enrolled have been identified as special needs students.

In December, the state’s Charter School Advisory Board recommended to the North Carolina Board of Education that PACE not have its charter renewed. The CSAB report cited testing noncompliance, fiscal irregularities and low academic performance.

Medley says there was some discussion before the unanimous vote was made.

“Primarily the reason is that the board—which was granted the charter by the state board of education—did not offer effective oversite of the school,” Medley says.

Medley says a formal letter was sent to the school shortly after the decision was made. In that it explains that the school still has a chance to fight the ruling.

“The school does have the opportunity to appeal to the office of administrative hearings, and they’ll be notified of that today,” Medley says.

School Delays – Friday, January 24

Chatham County Schools – students on a two-hour delay (due to low temperatures)

Winter Weather Closings, Cancellations, and Delays – Updated 7:30 a.m.

Wednesday, January 22

A Place to Grow: Opening two hours late.

Asbury Preschool (Durham): Opening two hours late.

Bethesda Baptist Child Care: Delayed until 10:00 a.m.

Bethesda Christian Academy: Opening two hours late.

Bright Horizons: Opening two hours late.

Bryson Christian Montessori: Opening two hours late.

Butterfly Kisses Academy: Delayed until 10:00 a.m.

Calvary Child Care of Durham: Delayed until 10:00 a.m.

Carolina Dialysis of Carrboro: Opening late – 7:30 a.m. – Staff; 8:00 a.m. – Patients on first shift

Carolina Friends School: Opening two hours late.

Carrboro Methodist Childcare: Opening two hours late.

Carter Community School: Opening two hours late.

Chapel Hill Day Care: Opening two hours late.

Chapel Hill Transit: Operating normal schedules. “If you must travel, be safe, dress warmly and expect delays.”

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools: Opening two hours late.

Chatham County Schools: Opening two hours late; optional teacher work day.

Chatham Child Development Center: Opening two hours late.

Chatham Trades/Siler City: Opening two hours late.

Cresset Christian Academy: Opening two hours late.

Duke School: Opening two hours late.

Durham Academy: Opening two hours late.

Durham Nativity School: Opening two hours late.

Durham Public Schools: Opening two hours late.

Durham Technical Community College: Delayed until 10:00 a.m.

Emerson Waldorf School: Opening two hours late.

Epworth Preschool: Opening one hour late.

Fellowship Baptist Academy of Durham: Opening two hours late.

Global Scholars Academy: Opening two hours late.
The Goddard School of Durham: Opening two hours late.

Gorman Christian Academy and Gorman Early Learning Center: Delayed until 10:00 a.m.

Grey Stone Preschool/Kindergarten: CLOSED

Haw River Christian Academy: Opening two hours late.

Hill Center: Delayed until noon.

Immaculata Catholic School: Opening two hours late.

International Montessori School: Opening two hours late.

Kestrel Heights Charter School: Opening two hours late.

Kids Learning Center: Opening two hours late.

KinderCare of Chapel Hill: Opening two hours late.

KinderCare of Durham: Opening two hours late.

The Learning Experience in Durham: Delayed until 9:00 a.m.

The Learning Garden: Delayed until 10:00 a.m.

Learning Tots Academy (RTP): Opening two hours late.

Lerner Jewish Community Day School: Opening two hours late.

Little School of Hillsborough: Opening at 9:00 a.m.

Maureen Joy Charter School: Opening two hours late.

Montessori Day School of Chapel Hill: Opening at 10:00 a.m.

Montessori Farm School: Opening two hours late.

Mt Sylvan Preschool: Opening at 9:00 a.m.

Mt Zion Christian Academy: Opening two hours late.

NC Central University: Delayed until 10:00 a.m.

Orange County Schools: Closed to students and staff.

Orange UMC Preschool: Opening one hour late.

Pace Academy: Opening two hours late.

Park West Barber School: Opening two hours late.

Pasitos Felices: Opening two hours late.

Pittsboro Baptist Preschool: CLOSED

Research Triangle High School: Opening one hour late.

Robyn’s Nest Creative Learning Center: Delayed until 9:00 a.m.

St. Thomas More Catholic School of Chapel Hill: Opening two hours late.

Sunshine Smiles Academy: Delayed until 10:00 a.m.

Tiny Tots and Tiny Tots Too: Delayed until 8:00 a.m.

Trinity School (Durham and Chapel Hill): Delayed until 10:00 a.m.

UFC Christian Academy: Opening two hours late.

UNC Wellness Centers (Meadowmont and NW Cary): Opening at 9:00 a.m.

Victorious Daycare of Durham: Opening two hours late.

Voyager Academy: Opening two hours late.

Westminster Kindergarten: Delayed until 10:00 a.m.

Woods Charter School: Opening two hours late.

YMCA Chapel Hill/Carrboro branch: Delayed until 9:00 a.m.


For future reference: Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools’ policy is if there is no school, there are no after school activities.

NC School Board Starts Studying Virtual Charters

RALEIGH — North Carolina’s statewide school board is getting to work on whether to allow charter schools that operate with fewer rules to offer online-only classes.

The State Board of Education on Friday starts work on figuring out the best rules and needed changes to state law to allow virtual charter schools. The task was assigned by state lawmakers, and recommendations are due before the General Assembly opens its next session in the spring.

The study group hears from a Chapel Hill education research firm about what’s happening with virtual charter schools across the country and what people in North Carolina think.

The meeting comes a week after a state appeals court ruled the state school board was justified when it blocked a company’s bid to establish an online-only charter school.

CHCCS Scores Well On New State Tests, Econ. Disadvantaged Below Mark

CHAPEL HILL – Economically disadvantaged children in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools system didn’t meet state standards under the new Common Core READY system, but state officials and district leaders say the new system needs time to normalize.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools’ Superintendent Tom Forcella says plans have already been put into motion to improve on the numbers that for the most part met or exceeded the new standards in most categories.

“We’ve created a new long-range plan—a new vision for the school district—which is rooted in the concept of a growth mindset, which believes that intelligence is not stagnant, that I.Q. was developed as a way to sort children,” Forcella says.

The Long Range Plan lays out a five-year strategy of implementing 28 goals—some of which will take a multiple years to take full effect and others that may only take a year.

“One of our goals in our new plan is to eliminate the achievement gap,” Forcella says. “We have a number of strategies in place to do that. One is the equal opportunity schools initiative, but we also feel the way to do that is to improve instruction in all our classrooms.”

Executive Director of Testing and Program Evaluation, Diane Villwock says the new Common Core Standards are all about better understanding the information.

“The difference in Common Core is there are far fewer standards,” Villwock says. “So, the amount of stuff that people are supposed to learn in a given year is quite a bit smaller. But, they’re going to learn it at a much deeper level.”

Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools met 96.6 percent of the 560 federal goals, which have been in place since 2001; North Carolina’s READY structure of Common Core Standards were met at a rate of 94.6 percent and included 947 goals.

Villwock says it’s important for parents not to jump to conclusions about these numbers, because there’s really no way of telling just how the numbers stack up.

“It’s significantly like—so much so—that (the state) said this is baseline data—it’s our first year picture—and we can’t compare it to last year,” Villwock says. “I’ve been doing this job for over 20 years, and we’ve never said that before.”

To see Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools’ scores in the READY Common Core Standards, click here.

To see the statewide READY Accountability Report, click here.



2012-13 Testing Results Released for CHCCS

Proficiency expectations met in nearly every area

CHAPEL HILL, NC – Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools (CHCCS) students met or exceeded proficiency expectations in nearly every area in 2012-13, according to newly released testing results from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. The one area where expectations were not met was the Economically Disadvantaged Students group.

According to the results released November 7, the district met 96.6 percent of the 560 federal goals and 94.6 percent of the 947 state goals. Of the 27 achievement goals that were missed, 20 were for the Economically Disadvantaged Students group.

“We recognize there is one group that stands out in the data, one group that whose academic needs are not being met,” said Superintendent Tom Forcella. “Our district’s greatest challenge is bringing up the proficiency levels of our economically disadvantaged students.”

Thursday’s results are the first to be released as part of a comprehensive overhaul of the state’s Standard Course of Study, the student assessment program and the school accountability model. The new student assessments were aligned to the revised Standard Course of Study and were given for the first time in the 2012-13 school year. As a result, these proficiency results cannot be compared with previous years’ scores. This year’s scores will serve as a baseline to measure gains in future years.

Whenever new standards are set, test score results indicate a drop at first. This is an ordinary trend. While CHCCS scores appear significantly lower than in previous years, it is important to note that new Common Core Standards have ushered in increased rigor and higher expectations. Compared to previous years, students must demonstrate higher levels of achievement in order to be considered proficient. Within the new parameters, the district outpaced state proficiency averages by a wide margin.

The new accountability model uses End-of-Grade (EOG) and End-of-Course (EOC) tests, ACT scores, graduation rates, math course rigor, ACT WorkKeys assessments and other information to measure student performance.

The goal of the accountability program is to reduce the percent of students in each of the tested subgroups who are non-proficient by half over a six-year period. Proficiency is defined as Level III or IV on state tests. Levels I and II are considered non-proficient. The federal subgroups include: all, African American, Asian, Latino, Multi-racial, Native American, White, economically disadvantaged, limited English proficient and students with disabilities. The state also reports outcomes for academically intellectually gifted students.

Schools also continued to be measured against Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) to ensure that attention remains focused on closing performance gaps among student subgroups. The AMOs were developed using federal guidelines and are a series of performance targets that specific subgroups of students must achieve each year to meet the federal law’s requirements. The AMOs were recalculated for the 2012-13 accountability year since all the tests given were new this past year.

The results show that in 2012-13:

  • The district met 96.6 percent of the federal goals and 94.6 percent of 947 state goals.
  • Of the 51 goals not met across the schools and the district, 27 were for groups not having sufficiently high achievement compared to the AMOs, and 24 were for not testing the required 95 percent of students (participation).
  • Of the 27 achievement goals that were missed, 20 were for the Economically Disadvantaged Students group. The Economically Disadvantaged Students group is defined as those students receiving free or reduced lunch price. No other group failed to meet more than two goals.
  • All, but one, of the missed participation goals were at the high school level. Of the 24 participation goals missed, 15 ACT participation goals were missed. The average number of students by which a participation goal was missed was three students. Letters will be sent to parents at schools where participation goals were missed, explaining the steps that will be taken to ensure at least 95 percent of each student group participates in each state assessment.

“Students must meet more rigorous standards and demonstrate their understanding of concepts in more challenging ways,” said Dr. Magda Parvey, Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services. “We are entirely focused on aligning our curriculum and teaching strategies to the new standards. Our teachers and instructional team continue to participate in professional development with high expectations for raising student achievement levels.”

The 2012-13 school year is considered a transition year for student performance results, so there will be no consequences for students or schools this year.