ACCOUNTABILITY: Raise expectations and help students, teachers, and principals to excel
Everyone – from the governor and the Legislature to the State Board of Education to classroom teachers – must be held accountable for the education of North Carolina’s children. We know that our schools are performing inadequately: 30 percent of students do not graduate, nearly all students who fail the state’s achievement tests are still promoted to the next grade, and state tests reinforce and reward low expectations. Political leaders, principals, teachers and schools must be held more accountable. At the same time, accountability should go hand-in-hand with incentives that encourage high-performing schools, principals and teachers to excel.
ACCOUNTABILITY for Principals:
– Expand training and mentoring opportunities for principals and give them more authority to run their schools.
– Give principals more flexibility regarding staffing and budgetary decisions.
– Provide annual benchmarks for principals in districts with the highest dropout rates.
– Close loopholes that allow principals to promote unqualified students to the next grade level.
– Provide funds per student based on student needs and give principals the authority to use this money as best fits each school (see WSF below).
ACCOUNTABILITY for Teachers:
What Voters Like:
|• Replacing state curriculum tests with standardized national tests (69%)
• Providing financial incentives to teachers who meet or exceed targets (68%)
– Empower principals to remove instructional staff at low-performing schools.
– Provide teacher report cards based on AYP (adequate yearly progress) and other indicators.
– Improve financial incentives for teachers who meet or exceed targets for student progress.
– Develop pilot pay plans for teachers based on career ladders, professional development, performance pay, and peer evaluation.
– Create world-class, research-driven continuing education courses for teachers and give teachers more opportunity to take advantage of this training
ACCOUNTABILITY for Schools:
– Reduce the number of state tests, as recommended by the Blue Ribbon Commission on Testing and Accountability. Replace the state testing system with national standardized tests that will provide valid comparisons with national populations.
– Require all school districts to undergo a best practices audit every three years to ensure funds are being spent properly and effectively.
– Give the state the authority to close or restructure chronically low-performing schools.
– Provide financial incentives to schools that successfully reduce their dropout rate.
– Before expanding programs, require independent evaluations to ensure they are effectively meeting their goals. Programs like More at Four have been significantly expanded despite research from other states that shows diminishing benefits as participation expands beyond at-risk populations.
Helping Schools Succeed
Cole College Prep – Denver, Colorado. In 2000, Colorado passed a law permitting the Board of Education to close failing public schools and reopen them as independent charter schools. In 2004, Cole Middle School became the first school to be closed under the law. It reopened as Cole College Prep in 2005, run by the national Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP). Despite initial difficulties related to the transition from a traditional to an alternative public school, Cole College Prep succeeded in improving student achievement in its first year. The percentage of seventh graders scoring proficient in reading and writing increased from 10 percent to 24 percent, and proficiency in math improved from 6 percent to 14 percent.