ABCs of Education
First implemented in 1997, the ABCs (Accountability, Basics, and Maximum Local Control) of Education represented a comprehensive restructuring of public education in North Carolina. The plan, developed by the State Board of Education, put forth a defined accountability framework and benchmarks to assess student progress. ABC rewards schools and teachers whose students make progress on state measures of student achievement. Schools who fail to meet standards are held accountable by formula. In addition, the ABC initiative also provides increased local control and budget flexibility.
Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)
Key federal measure of accountability included in the Elementary and Secondary Act (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act (2001). AYP is a measure of progress based pupil scores on state assessment tests. In order to be eligible for grants under ESEA- Title 1, Part A, “Education for Disadvantaged Pupils,” – schools must implement all AYP standards for all public schools and local education agencies (LEAs). Schools that fail to meet AYP standards for two or more consecutive years must have technical assistance supplied by LEAs and spend at least 10 percent of Title I-A grant money on professional development activities. Pupils attending schools that fail to meet AYP standards for two or more consecutive years must have the option to attend other public schools that meet AYP standards. Schools that do not receive Title 1 funds must also participate, but they face less severe sanctions if they do not meet AYP.
ADM (Average Daily Membership)
The sum of the number of students in each LEA, times the number of days each student is enrolled, divided by the number of days in the school year. (Thus a student enrolled for the entire year is counted as one student, and a student enrolled for only one semester is counted as half a student.)
Basic Education Program (BEP)
The release in 1983 of the national report, "A Nation at Risk," sparked a host of school reform initiatives across the country. In 1985, the General Assembly passed legislation directing the State Board of Education to adopt a basic education program. The Basic Education Program defined a basic education to include; study in the arts; communications skills; physical education and personal health and safety; mathematics; media computer skills; science second languages, social studies and vocational and technical education. BEP was originally $800 million and included allocations for dropout prevention, additional teachers to lower class size, and funding for support staff and materials. The recession of the early 1990s, coupled with concerns about expense and accountability, cut into funding and ended the phase-in of BEP. Although funding for BEP ceased in 1994 providing resources that continue to this day, the program significantly expanded funding for public schools.
Money authorized by the Legislature to be spent on a particular program or line item; an unexpended appropriation is one that could have been spent, but was not; an unappropriated balance refers to cash reserves that have not been allocated for any purpose.
The session laws that appropriate funds for the next biennium (or fiscal year). In sections called special provisions, the budget bill enumerates the total budget appropriated to each agency, salaries of government officials and other public employees, and the legal language that specifies how agencies and other entities may or may not spend their money and report on their expenditures.
School designed and operated, not by public entities or individuals employed by the state, but by private individuals, local community leaders, entrepreneurs or organizations via private charter. Charter schools are public schools in North Carolina and therefore do not charge tuition. The state provides operating funds based on the number of students, but no money for capital is included. Students who wish to attend a charter school must apply – applicants are selected by lottery. Because the school receives state funding, the state’s accountability measures apply to charter schools in the same way as they do to traditional public schools. Schools that fail to meet state requirements may lose designation and be forced to close. North Carolina passed charter school legislation in 1996 [S.L. 1995-731] and capped the number of charter schools at 100. The cap was met in 2001; and as of 2006 there were 93 active charter schools.
Expenditures made for educational goods and services – excluding capital outlays and interest on school debt – incurred in the operation of a school. Current expenditures represent costs in a given year. Items may include: salaries for school personnel, fixed charges, student transportation, supplies, scholarships, energy costs, administration and minor capital repair. Current expenditures do not include capital expenditures which are typically incurred over the course of several years. Such costs include: costs associated with school construction, major renovation, school buses or large equipment items. According to the Digest of Education Statistics, current expenditures for elementary and secondary education in North Carolina increased from $2.6 billion in 1985 to $6.5 billion in 2003 (unadjusted dollars).
Disadvantaged Students Supplemental Fund (DSSF)
Began in FY2003-04 as a $23 million dollar appropriation to 16 pilot districts with high percentages of disadvantaged students who did not achieve grade proficiency. Funds have increased each year since then, reaching $50 million in 2006-07 when the program was expanded to all school districts. DSSF funds are distributed by local education agencies. In conjunction with local educational assistance teams, local administrative units are responsible for developing a plan to address the needs of students. The plan must then be approved by the State Board of Education. DSSF may be used in conjunction with other supplemental services such as low wealth, small county, and at risk student services/alternative schools. Funds may be used for instruction, instructional support personnel, or for teacher bonuses and supplements. All districts receive some funding. Program opponents believe DSSF replicates or piggybacks existing services.
Disproportionate Share Reserve
A reserve account established in 1993 (S.L. 1993-321) to hold excess payments dispersed by the Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program to hospitals that serve a “disproportionate number of low-income patients with special needs.” Throughout the 1990s, federal policymakers expressed concern that many states were taking advantage of the DSH program to decrease their own contributions to Medicaid and subsidize general spending initiatives.
Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
United States federal statute signed into law in 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson (D). ESEA was the first comprehensive legislation to provide federal funds for primary and secondary education in the United States. The legislation authorized funds for educators’ professional development, instructional materials, resources to support educational programs, and parental involvement promotion. Title I of ESEA provided federal assistance to schools and school districts with a high percentage of students from low-income families. The act has been reauthorized every five years since the Johnson administration. ESEA has had two significant amendments: Improving America’s Schools Act (1994) and No Child Left Behind (2002).
English as a Second Language (ESL)
Language instruction program for non-native speakers wanting to learn English. Public schools in North Carolina must offer ESL programs. School system officials are responsible for identifying students as having limited proficiency in English and students are required to participate in intensive language instruction.
EOG/EOC (End of Grade/End of Course)
Refers to standardized state assessment tests administered in math, reading, science and writing. In North Carolina, EOG in grades 3-8; EOC in high school.
Term used for disabled students and academically gifted students. Special funding streams are available to serve these students.
Fiscal Year (FY)
The 12-month period covered by the state budget: July 1 to June 30.
Funds general needs, as opposed to specific or restricted purposes. The General Fund accounts for about half of the state’s total budgetary financing and is supplied by revenue from a wide variety of taxes and fees, as well as money from court fees, disproportionate share receipts, investment earnings and bonds, the tobacco settlement, the Highway Fund, and the Highway Trust Fund.
North Carolina law (G.S. § 115C-563[a]) defines a home school as “a non-public school in which one or more children of not more than two families or households receive academic instruction from parents or legal guardians, or a member of either household.” The North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education (DNPE), a part of the North Carolina Department of Administration, is responsible for administering home school programs and enforcing existing state requirements. Parents who wish to “home school” must submit to DNPE a notice of intent to operate a school; possess at least a high school diploma; operate the school on a regular schedule at least nine months of the calendar year; classify the school as either religious or non-religious; and maintain immunization and attendance records. In school year 2006-07, more than 68,700 students were enrolled in 36,000 home schools in North Carolina. If all home school students were combined into one school district, home schoolers would comprise the fourth-largest school district in North Carolina.
LEA Assistance Program
State Board of Education initiative piloted in 2003 to help school districts that performed poorly on AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) and ABC measures. The LEA Assistance Program targets school districts, rather than individual schools, and offers assistance to low-performing schools. Once a district has been identified, a team is assigned to the LEA. The team works full-time within the districts’ central office and with individual schools to improve student achievement and further continuous improvement. In 2003, $500,000 in LEA program funds was appropriated from the General Fund. The program has been renewed at similar level funding levels through 2005.
Leandro v. State (1997)
Unanimous North Carolina Supreme Court decision that all children have a constitutional right to a “sound, basic education,” as defined by the court. N.C. Superior Court Judge Howard Manning issued a series of opinions through 2004 to flesh out the details of this ruling. Key opinions included: (1) the current distribution of state money for education is fair, and (2) the current amount of money is inadequate to educate disadvantaged students. (See Leandro)
Local Education Agency (LEA)
Local school system within the state. LEAs have their own public board of education or authority that maintains administrative control over the public schools for a specific city or county. Currently there are 115 LEAs in North Carolina.
With elections held in November of each even-numbered year, the General Assembly convenes from January to July (but often even longer) of each odd-numbered year for what is called the long session. The biennial budget is crafted and adopted during the long session.
Low Wealth Supplement Funds
Funds distributed to “enhance the instructional program and student achievement.” Low wealth funds are distributed to local school administrative units where the county wealth as a percentage of the state average wealth is less than 100 percent. The amount received is based on average daily membership (ADM) for the county and the difference between the state average current expense appropriations per student and the current expense appropriations per student that the county could provide given the county’s wealth and an average effort to fund public schools. Low wealth funds can be used for instructional positions, instructional support positions, supplies and equipment, or professional development. More than $171 million in low wealth supplement funds were distributed to local school administrative units in 2005.
National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)
Federal testing program, also known as the nation’s report card. It is the only nationally representative and continuing assessment of American students in such areas as reading, mathematics, science, writing, U.S. history, civics, geography and the arts. NAEP does not provide scores for individual students or schools.
National Board of Professional Teaching Standards Certification (NBPTSC)
The NBPTSC designation is awarded to teachers who meet specific standards of teaching practice and assessment. Teachers who earn national certification in North Carolina receive an automatic salary increase of 12 percent and are eligible to be reimbursed by the state for up to $2,500 in costs related to acquiring certification (cf. S.L. 1997-221). For 12 years in a row, North Carolina has led the nation in the number (12,770) of nationally certified teachers. Research on the impact of certification on student learning is far from conclusive. A recent study by Harris and Sass (2007) suggests that NBPTS certified teachers working with students of low socioeconomic status do not enhance student learning.
National School Lunch Program
Federal program administered by the Department of Agriculture that provides free and low-cost lunches to millions of children every school day. Children from families with income at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) − currently $26,485 for a family of four − are eligible for free meals. Those with income between 130 percent and 185 percent of FPL − $38,203 for a family of four − are eligible for reduced-price meals. Students can be charged no more than 40 cents for a reduced-price lunch. Children from families with incomes over 185 percent of FPL pay full price. The federal government spent $8.2 billion on the National School Lunch Program in 2006. Participation in the school lunch program has become a closely watched indicator of poverty in many states. Yet federal school lunch programs have been criticized over methods for calculating the federal poverty rate and for introducing an eligibility formula that has the effect of redefining and expanding the definition of poverty to 185 percent of the original threshold. According to Department of Public Instruction statistics, 48 percent of students in North Carolina schools were eligible for reduced-price or free lunch programs during the 2006-07 school year. This number includes illegal alien students, who are eligible for the school lunch program.
NC WISE (North Carolina Window of Information on Student Education)
An electronic student accounting system that provides student, school data and information management capabilities via Internet-based software. Among other things, NC WISE will serve as an extensive statewide student data system that will allow schools to track individual students who leave one K-12 public school for another, thus providing better data on graduation and dropout rates. NC WISE replaces the Student Information Management System (SIMS). NC WISE collects data for education initiatives such as the ABCs of Public Education, Uniform Education Reporting System (UERS) and the No Child Left Behind Act. When fully operational, the system will provide information for managing student attendance, grades, test reports and class schedules. School districts are implementing NC WISE on a phased-in schedule. But thus far NC WISE has been plagued with glitches and cost overruns and is currently years behind schedule and millions over budget. By the end of 2008, NC WISE is projected to serve all 115 school districts and 100 charter schools.
NCLB (No Child Left Behind Act)
No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-110). Federal law signed on January 8, 2002. Reauthorized several federal programs aimed at improving the performance of U.S. primary and secondary schools. NCLB provided parents with greater flexibility in selecting where their children attend school. It also developed standards of accountability for states and school districts based on the belief that high standards and expectations will help students to succeed. NCLB continues to be controversial and its impact uncertain.
North Carolina Virtual Public School (NCVPS)
School established by the Business and Education Technology Alliance that provides courses to students that they are unable to take at their local schools. NCVPS is intended to augment a student’s local school’s program of study. All NCVPS courses are taught by a certified teacher and once the online course is completed the student receives credit on his or her school transcript. There is no cost to the local school or student’s family. NCVPS initial offerings are for high school students. In subsequent years, course offerings will be available for middle school and elementary school students and will include additional services, such as SAT or ACT test preparation and Advanced
Placement exam reviews.
Performance Based Accountability (PBA)
In 1992, the original School Improvement and Accountability Act was amended to give teachers and parents greater input and responsibility over the school improvement planning process. In addition, school systems were also required to meet performance indicators as set by the State Board of Education. Standards were set for every elementary, middle and high school in the state. End-of-grade and end-of-course test results and selected components were developed to measure each school’s progress. Schools that achieve high marks were eligible for incentive awards. Schools where growth and performance fell below specific levels were designated as “low-performing" and eligible for mandated assistance from the State Board of Education.
Federal education program mandated under the No Child Left Behind Act (2002). Reading First requires schools to use scientifically based reading instruction to improve reading. The program is focused on ensuring all students can read at grade level by the end of grade three. Reading First funds can be used to purchase supplies and materials and hire coaches. In 2005, the North Carolina State Board of Education distributed $20.9 million dollars in Reading First grants.
School Report Cards
In 2004, Governor Mike Easley (D) announced a program to provide a report card for all public, charter and alternative schools in North Carolina. The purpose of the School Report Card is to furnish the public with helpful information concerning school and district demographics, student performance, school safety, and teacher and administrator quality. Information regarding student performance is some of the most publicized information from the annual School Report Cards. Each school receives a letter grade regarding student performance on the state’s End-of-Grade/End-of-Course tests. Letter grades are awarded based on: 1) performance: the percentage of students testing at or above grade level; and 2) growth: whether students have learned as much has they were expected to learn in one year. Critics of the program claim the tests used to gauge student progress lack rigor and do not provide a true measure of progress. To access additional information on North Carolina School Report Cards log onto: www.ncreportcards.org.
The legislative session that convenes in even-numbered years. The session meets from May to July (and often longer) in order to make adjustments to the biennial budget adopted during the long session.
Standard Course of Study
Developed by the Department of Public Instruction, standard course of study refers to the curriculum that is made available to every child attending public schools in North Carolina. First developed in 1898, the standard course of study provides a set of competencies for every content area in each grade and high school course. It is designed to ensure rigorous student academic performance standards that are uniform across the state. Standard course of study is based on a philosophy of teaching and learning and consistent with current research, exemplary practices and national standards. It is periodically altered to reflect changes in national, state and local communities.
State Assistance Teams
Created in 1995 as an essential component of the ABCs of Education, state assistance teams are assigned to schools designated by the State Board of Education, as low-performing. Assistance teams work to improve student achievement and to promote continuous improvement among faculty. Teams serve full-time within individual schools and work with both school executives and students. At the completion of the assignment, assistance teams share recommendations with the State Board of Education, school superintendent, and the local school board.
State Board of Education
State entity responsible for supervising and administering “the free public school system and the educational funds provided for its support.” The Board of Education is charged with setting and implementing policy impacting public education in North Carolina. The board consists of the lieutenant governor, the state treasurer and 11 members appointed by the governor. The governor’s appointments are subject to confirmation by the General Assembly in joint session. Eight of the appointed members represent the eight educational districts of the state. Three members are considered at-large appointments. Members are appointed for eight years and have staggered terms. The elected state superintendent of public instruction serves as secretary and chief administrative officer of the board.
Student Accountability Standards
The 1997 General Assembly instructed the State Board of Education to establish student accountability standards for North Carolina public school students in the 3rd, 5th, 8th and 12th grades. Standards were approved by the State Board of Education in 1999 and went into effect for the first time with the fifth grade in 2001. High school standards went into effect with the class of 2005. Student accountability standards require students to perform at grade level on end of grade (EOG) tests before they are automatically promoted to the next grade. Students not meeting this standard can be retested, receive academic intervention, or have their situation reviewed by a panel of educators. Student accountability standards are the first statewide promotion standards for elementary, middle and secondary schools in North Carolina.
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
State agency charged with implementing public school laws as well as the policies of the State Board of Education. The Department of Public Instruction provides staff leadership and service to public schools in the following areas: curriculum, instruction, finance, teacher and administrator licensure and preparation, professional development, and school business support and operations. The department employs between 500 and 600 full-time staff.
Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) enacted April 11, 1965 (Pub. L. 89-10, 79, Stat.77 20 U.S.C. Ch.70) and amended by “Improving America’s Schools” (1994) and “No Child Left Behind” (2002). ESEA is an extensive act, which provides federal funds to elementary, and secondary schools in the United States. Title I refers to a set of programs administered by the U.S. Department of Education to distribute funding to schools and school districts with a high percentage of low income students. Title I schools typically have approximately 40 percent of students who qualify as “low-income” as defined by the U.S. Census definitions. The majority of Title I funds are used for grades 1 through 6.