Commentary

Public School Forum’s study group XVI releases strong series of policy recommendations for North Carolina schools

Last week, the Public School Forum of North Carolina released the results of its sixteenth biennial study group, focused on educational opportunity in North Carolina.  The study group’s Action Plan and Recommendations reflect a year’s worth of work from over 175 committee members (including Rick Glazier and Matt Ellinwood of the NC Justice Center, and Billy Ball of NC Policy Watch) across three committees.  Their policy recommendations can be found below.

Committee on Trauma & Learning:

  • Maximize the impact of opportunities under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to support practices that recognize the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) on learning.
  • Design “on-ramps” for educators to increase awareness of ACEs, their impact on learning, and appropriate interventions.
  • Implement and evaluate pilot programs, and share data and related resources produced through those programs.
  • Create statewide policy to guide schools’ work addressing the impacts of ACEs on learning.

Committee on Racial Equity:

  • Prevent re-segregation by using socioeconomic integration models to diversify schools and citywide student assignment policies to curb residential segregation.
  • Implement Restorative Justice and Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports (PBIS) as alternative and preventative measures of discipline.
  • Develop Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and Response to Intervention (RTI) processes that take cultural differences into account when assessing students with disabilities.
  • Address racial disparities in access to academically gifted programs and honors, AP, and other rigorous courses, by adopting universal screening processes and auditing course enrollments.
  • Develop a fellowship program that incentivizes people of color to become teachers and offers them support to stay in the profession long-term.
  • Create teacher preparation pathways for communities of color that begin recruiting prospective teachers in high school, and that expand lateral entry opportunities for professionals from minority groups who show interest and promise as potential educators.
  • Develop a set of standards for culturally relevant teaching to assist teachers in understanding what competencies are needed to effectively instruct students of color.
  • Provide implicit racial bias training for teachers and administrators to help break habits of prejudice and lead to more balanced treatment of students of color.

Committee on Supporting Low-Performing Schools:

  • Increase investment in high-quality early childhood education programs and interventions specifically serving grades K-3 in low-performing schools and districts.
  • Adopt area-wide school improvement strategies that connect multiple schools in a defined geographic area with community assets and external partners, and that provide flexibility to schools in the chosen area to innovate in key areas of school operations.
  • Improve allocation of vital resources to support interventions that will attract and retain excellent teachers and school leaders in high-need schools, including 11-month teacher contracts; extended contracts with incentives for proven turnaround principals; teacher scholarships; and opportunities for teachers to advance in their careers without leaving the classroom.
  • Establish strong partnerships between teacher preparation programs and high-need schools and districts.
  • Require low-performing schools to implement turnaround interventions based on empirical evidence or strong theories.
  • Broaden the state’s accountability system to incorporate multiple measures of student outcomes.

The entire report is a must-read for North Carolina policymakers and education stakeholders, and will hopefully serve as the basis for a number of bills in next year’s legislative session.

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