Education

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Kindergarten teacher Daly Romero Espinal teaches her students basic Spanish commands on the first day of school at Martin Millennium Academy.
Reema Khrais

Slightly fewer teachers left North Carolina last year than the year before, but more left because they were dissatisfied with teaching or wanted to teach in another state, according to a state Department of Public Instruction draft report.

Of the 96,010 public school teachers employed last year, 1,011 said they left because they were dissatisfied with teaching or had a career change. The year before, nearly nine hundred teachers left for those reasons.

Terry Stoops is the Director of Education Studies at the John Locke Foundation
Twitter

Contributions to the superb #TeachingInNC project are, to quote baseball great Yogi Berra, déjà vu all over again.

The names of classroom activities are different, but children today are engaged in tasks that have cycled in and out of public school classrooms for decades. 

Whether it is group work, hands-on activities, student-led discussions, or focus on "real world" skills, it is a good bet that previous generations of experts have promoted it, teachers have employed it, and children have suffered through it.

WUNC ran a month-long project where we asked teachers to give us a snapshot of their lives.

Many teachers shared photos of exciting things happening inside their classrooms. But many also shared frustrations. Teacher pay and workload topped the list:

We asked a variety of educational leaders in the state to review all of the responses to #TeachingInNC. We asked a simple question: what do you see? 

'The pictures really speak a thousand words'

Oct 31, 2014
State Superintendent June Atkinson listens to a second grade student from Perquimans Central School read from his favorite book.
NC Public Schools

In looking at and reviewing the snapshots of teachers' lives submitted by some of the state's 95,000 public school teachers, I am proud to see such wonderful illustrations of creative, engaging and quality learning occurring in our public school classrooms.  

The pictures really speak a thousand words as to why our students are making such strong academic growth and why they are graduating in record-breaking numbers. The pictures depict what I see all the time across the state in the many classes I am so fortunate to visit. 

Mark Jewell
NCAE

When I look at these tweets from our amazing educators and students, a big smile comes across my face. It makes me reflect back to my own career as a NC public school teacher.

I have worked in education for 27 years.  I started in 1987, teaching in my home state of West Virginia. But by 1997 I was in the classroom in Guilford County, lured to North Carolina because of her reputation as a leader in innovation and classroom practices.

Being a teacher is tough anywhere. On a national scale, being a teacher in North Carolina is arguably among the most challenging environments in public education. 

Recent "rankings" have painted a picture of North Carolina's public schools that have raised alarm in communities across the state, bringing public education to the forefront of policy and politics. 

Most would agree that where we are is not where we need to be to compete economically in modern regional, national, and global markets. 

Bill McDiarmid
UNC School of Education

One of the things that struck me was how rewarding teachers continue to find their careers despite the environment they are in. Many teachers don't feel valued or respected. While there are good aspects to the [recent] pay raise for early career teachers, more veteran teachers feel like the service that they put in isn't valued.

And yet if you look at the comments (in #TeachingInNC) you see how committed, enthusiastic and creative these folks remain.

Howard Lee
UNC-TV

I found that a lot of the responses were inspirational, and I am big on inspiring students. I thought the attempt was being made to get students really excited about learning, and I really like that.

There was one post that was about success. The teacher talked about helping students find their dreams. I am in the midst of writing a paper about dreams, hope and faith, and this is what I am writing:

Dreams inspire, hope motivates and faith sustains.

(Note: Lee points out several posts that are by teachers talking about inspiring students.)

At the beginning of this school year, WUNC ran an experiment. We asked teachers a simple question: "Give us a snapshot of your life, in words or pictures."

By the end of the month we had 1,400 responses, mostly on Twitter.

Teachers talked about their pay, their frustrations, their surprising moments, their working weekends, their plugged up classroom toilets. They took photos of t-shirts kids wore and notes students left. We saw a remarkable number of ways teachers are using technology. In short, we received just what we asked for, a window into the teaching profession in North Carolina today.

>> Look at the archive of responses here. Look at how educational leaders across the state responded to the project here.

Nancy Gardner is one of the teachers who contributed to the project. Gardner is National Board Certified Teacher with over 26 years of experience in grades 7-12. She currently teaches senior English at Mooresville High School in Mooresville, N.C. where she chairs the English Department. We asked Nancy to review the tweets and Instagram contributions and tell us what she saw:

"I am inspired, and yes, a little weepy, when I read and view all of these at one time," writes Gardner. "Although some of these mention the salaries and frustrations with all of the issues facing NC teachers, the 'narrative' continues to reinforce the dedication our teachers have to helping all students become successful, in spite of the challenges."

Gardner then provided this list, something she calls "broad takeaways":

"No longer do we have rows of traditional teaching with the teacher in the front of the room," writes Gardner.  "All levels, K-12 are in small groups-and the lessons are teacher facilitated or coached."

teacher in a blur with classroom
Bart Everson / Flickr/Creative Commons

With Election Day almost here, it’s become clear that one issue has headlined almost all of the races: education.

Incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Kay Hagan and her Republican challenger Thom Tillis have traded barbs over issues of teacher pay and education funding, while similar conversations are playing out in legislative races throughout the state.

multiple choice test
Alberto G. / Flickr Creative Commons

One high school freshman is determined to change how the new grading scale will be implemented in public schools next year.

Parker Renberg, a freshman at Leesville Road High School in Wake County, says he’s upset that the grading scale changes will not affect him or any other current high school student.

Instead, it’ll begin with next year’s freshman class. They’ll be graded on a 10-point scale, instead of a 7-point scale. That means an A will be a 90-to-100 instead of 93-to-100.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Now a conversation with UNC's Chancellor Carol Folt. I began asking by her about the accusation you just heard - that this report is a whitewash.

    

From 1993 to 2011, more than 3,000 students at UNC-Chapel Hill took classes that did not require them to show up.

They were told only to submit a final paper, and they got artificially inflated grades. Nearly half were student-athletes who benefitted from the classes by remaining eligible to play.

Those findings were released Wednesday from former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein, who had been commissioned by the university to investigate academic fraud.

Thom Tillis and Kay Hagan
NC General Assembly/US Senate

    

As the midterm elections get closer, education is a prominent topic in North Carolina’s congressional races. 

#SocialMediaNC via Twitter

On Wednesday, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced the results of an independent investigation conducted by former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein into past academic irregularities at Carolina. WUNC's Jeff Tiberii was at the press conference. Here are his tweets, along with some others (most recent tweet first):

Kenan Memorial Stadium at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
William Yeung / Flickr/Creative Commons

Update Thursday 9:04 a.m.:

Kenneth Wainstein says academic fraud at UNC Chapel Hill began more than 20 years ago. The former federal prosecutor detailed the findings of his eight-month investigation Wednesday. It’s the latest in a series of investigations that marks one of the worst scandals in the school’s 225-year history.

East Chapel Hill High School students
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools

A state commission in charge of reworking the Common Core academic standards has begun reviewing them.  

Members spent hours on Monday learning what's expected under Common Core in terms of English and language arts. Some of those goals include when students should know how to explain their ideas or comprehend certain texts.  

The 11 members were politically appointed to review and possibly make changes to the academic standards after lawmakers heard complaints from parents and teachers that they do not progress in a natural or developmentally appropriate way.

Teen Suicide
www.teensuicideprevention.org

About 900 people are expected to attend the National Symposium on Juvenile Services this week in Greensboro.  The five-day event includes panel discussions, trainings on youth development strategies and research presentations to better understand brain development in adolescents.

Seminar topics include:

Jacquelyn Dowd Hall
UNC History Department website

  

When Jacquelyn Dowd Hall started the Southern Oral History Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 40 years ago, documenting the lives of ordinary people was not part of most history departments.

Students at lunch
U.S. Department of Agriculture

About 650 schools throughout the state are opting into a program to provide free breakfast and lunch for all students.

It is part of a new program called Community Eligibility Provision, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The idea is to allow schools with high percentages of low-income children to offer free meals for all, instead of collecting individual applications for free and reduced price meals.

In Durham, 10 schools are offering free meals to all students.

high school students
Vancouver Film School via Flickr/Creative Commons

North Carolina’s average SAT score from high school seniors is slightly improving, but is below the national average.

The 2014 senior class posted an average score of 1483 on the SAT college admission test, up four points from last year’s. A perfect score is 2400, with the three sections on the test graded on a 200-800 point scale.

The average score is 14 points below the national average of 1497. North Carolina students did not perform as well as their national peers in writing and math.

school supplies
Flickr via Robert S. Donovan

In North Carolina public schools, formal assessments do not begin until third grade, but many students develop learning problems long before then. That’s why education leaders say they are rolling out a statewide plan to begin assessing students in the earlier years.

Now, that does not mean five- and six-year-olds will have more paper and pencil tests. Instead, the responsibility will fall on teachers to track the development of their students.

Formative Assessments In A Kindergarten Classroom

Books
Reema Khrais

 Across the state, 79.2 percent of third-grade students showed they were proficient last year, according to a report presented to the State Board of Education on Thursday. 

A total of 12.7 percent of third-grade students were either retained in the third-grade or placed in transitional or accelerated classes. The remaining students were exempt because they are either English Language Learners or have learning disabilities. 

multiple choice test
Alberto G. / Flickr Creative Commons

  North Carolina’s high schools will move to a 10-point grading scale in 2015-16, going into effect with next year's freshmen. 

The State Board of Education approved the change on Thursday, moving away from the 7-point scale that has long been in place.

The 7-point scale means that a score between 93 and 100 is an A, 85-92 is a B, and so on.

Under the new scale, an A will be 90 to 100, and an 80 will be the lowest B. Scores below 60 will be considered failing.  

Flickr/Creative Commons
Image of A flag for each of the potential 3000 women that will be assaulted on a campus the size of University of Oregon, based on national averages

  

One in five women and one in 16 men is sexually assaulted on campus according to the National Institute of Justice

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