Special to Iredell Free News
RALEIGH — An advisory group of school leaders convened for the third time Wednesday to discuss revising the state’s unpopular A-F school performance grading model. Members split into groups to consider alternative indicators, academic and non-academic, that could be included in a final model to better measure school quality.
Following a statewide survey last month that showed strong interest in overhauling the current grading approach, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction has worked to share those results and solicit deeper feedback from a broad range of audiences on additional indicators that could be used to measure school quality.
Results of the survey, conducted by the education news site EdNC in partnership with NCDPI, showed that 90 percent of respondents favored a school grading model that includes indicators beyond test scores. The advisory group and the education agency are now focused on engaging other education stakeholders on the work underway and seeking feedback to narrow the list of academic and non-academic indicators.
“This process is really important, as it allows us to hear from many educators and school leaders across the state,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt said. “Importantly, we are starting to see some consensus and overlap among stakeholders on the indicators that should be included in the proposed redesign. The work ahead will encompass even greater stakeholder outreach as we continue to discuss possible indicators and seek feedback on emerging trends and themes.”
For weeks, NCDPI has been engaging education stakeholders during monthly convenings or annual conferences to discuss the work underway.
During NCDPI’s “AIM” professional development conference for educators across the state in late October, teachers, principals, charter and district leaders had the opportunity to discuss the survey results and provide input on individual indicators that could be considered for the revised model. Chief academic officers from across the state were convened separately during the AIM conference to provide in-depth feedback on the various school performance grade indicators by ranking their preferences. This survey encouraged participants to rank their top 10 indicators, which were outlined in the EdNC-NCDPI survey disseminated in early September.
The agency also has pursued a robust stakeholder feedback process across several education groups. This strategy has involved defining the need for redesigning school performance grade models, describing the process and timeline underway, sharing with each audience the ranking survey to prioritize their top indicators, and gathering feedback on the indicators based upon each group’s perspective.
“This work is important and exciting,” Deputy Superintendent Dr. Michael Maher said. “We’re starting to get a sense of which indicators are important. This advisory group has rolled up its sleeves and is working hard to inform other leaders about this process and the goal of the work outside of formal meetings. Within the next month, the NCDPI team tasked with overseeing this work will travel the state to continue presenting this information to education stakeholder groups as we work to narrow down the possible list of indicators for inclusion in the model.”
To date, the work around school performance grade redesign has been shared with the Superintendent’s Teacher Leadership Council, the Governor’s Teacher Advisory Committee, accountability directors for districts, educators, principals, charter school leaders, students, parents and more.
Over the next month, the narrowed list of top indicators will be presented to numerous stakeholders, including education leaders across the state for consideration and discussion.
When the advisory group meets again in December, it will consider implications and feedback from stakeholders on the narrowed list of indicators. This will help the advisory group formulate a final recommendation for the model.