Cap Quashes Charters Again
Special Report - May 10, 2010
More, or at least new, tests may be on the way for students in North Carolina’s public schools, but the number of charter schools allowed remains at 100. Dr. Angela Quick updated the State Board of Education at their May 5-6 meeting about the feedback that local superintendents had given surrounding the new Accountability and Curriculum Reform Effort (ACRE). The Effort seeks to update how schools are held accountable for their students’ performance, much of which will still be measured with the End of Course or End of Grade exam system (EOC or EOG). It is also updating what content North Carolina’s public schooled students will be expected to learn at each grade level. Closely related are the National Governor’s Common Core Standards initiative that North Carolina is participating in, and a federal grant that is being offered through the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top grant competition.
As we previously reported, the Board received a great deal of negative attention earlier this year when a draft of the ACRE revisions to the high school U.S. History course standards left out much of the nation’s pre-1877 history. Because of this, the committee working on high schools social standards started over on the project, and will not have their next draft out until August or September of this year.
Among the Dr. Quick’s findings were that superintendents would like to introduce more tests in the K-3 years to help schools intervene early for low performing elementary schools students. In addition, while successful completion of Algebra II is used as the determinant of a student’s “Future Ready” status, or whether that student is prepared to go on to a career or college, superintendents questioned whether it might be wise to add passage of a reading comprehension or language related exam.
Meanwhile, in order to comply with federal No Child Left Behind regulations, high school students enrolled in the Occupational Course of Study would be required to take courses and the accompanying exams from which they were previously exempt. Algebra I, English I, Grade 10 Writing, and Biology are among those that could be added or changed for these students. In response to concerns about “pushback” from local districts, Dr. Mary Watson reminded the board, “Every time we raise expectations” it’s difficult, “but we have to remember that no one rises to low expectations.”
Because of the extremely low cap of 100 charter schools allowed in North Carolina, only one slot for a new school to open was available for the State Board to dole out. Fifteen potential charter schools submitted their applications for the slot, and the Board chose seven to interview before the June meeting, at which it will authorize one of those seven finalists.
The Board approved teachers who have completed the Teach for America program to receive a teaching license without having to complete the same course of training and testing it requires for other lateral entry applicants. (Lateral entry is an alternative path to licensure for persons seeking a license to teach in North Carolina without receiving a four- year teaching degree from a public or private teaching college.) A research report by the Carolina Institute for Public Policy says that Teach for America teachers do as well as, and in five of nine measures, outperform traditionally educated teachers graduating from the UNC system. (They also, in general, outperform teachers who graduated from private colleges or entered the profession by a non-traditional route.)
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