photo of Stuart Albright
Stuart Albright

Why do some students succeed while others do not? This question has stumped teachers, school administrators, and education policy professionals who try to stop students from falling through the cracks.

A group of student protesters interrupted a UNC town hall meeting about race and inclusion to present their demands.
Reema Khrais

A town hall about race and inclusion on UNC’s campus Thursday drew loud protests and candid reflections from students. The discussion comes on the heels of several campus protests across the country related to racial issues.

Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt speaks to a group of mostly UNC Muslim students during a dinner intended to promote dialogue and encourage connections.
Catherine Lazorko

Aisha Anwar remembers when she attended a campus lecture last year as a UNC-Chapel Hill sophomore. She was one of the only Muslims in the crowd. The guest speaker gave a talk about Catholicism, and then touched on Islam.

“And concluded with some really, you know, I would say intellectually irresponsible conclusions,” she says.

Wikimedia Commons

North Carolina education leaders are proposing dramatic changes to the state's public education system.

A group tasked with retooling the Common Core standards met yesterday to present their preliminary recommendations


Glenwood Elementary students
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools

 A state commission reviewing the Common Core standards is proposing major changes to the Math and English goals.

The 11-member group presented draft recommendations on Monday that call for a restructuring of high school math, a stronger emphasis on writing and, overall, clearer goals that are more “developmentally appropriate.” 

multiple choice test
Alberto G. / Flickr Creative Commons

Testing season is wrapping up for many public school students in North Carolina. They’ve spent hours bubbling in answer sheets, proving to teachers what they’ve learned.

But end-of-year exams only represent a handful of the dozens of tests students take throughout a school year. The assessments are part of a testing regimen that education leaders are trying to rethink.

Since at least the early 1990s, education critics, parents and students have questioned whether there are too many standardized tests.

WUNC File Photo

North Carolina lawmakers passed several education-related bills on Wednesday, just hours before their legislative “crossover” deadline. Most bills that do not involve money must pass either chamber by Thursday at midnight to have a greater chance of surviving the session. Education bills passed by either chamber include:  

Greater Penalty For Assaulting Teachers

Eighth-grade students Yasmine Boufedji, Angelycia Bogart, Dunya Alkaissi, and Nassir Jordan.
Reema Khrais

As principal Mussarut Jabeen makes her way to the playground, two very young girls run to her, pleading for undivided attention. The first shows off a temporary henna tattoo.

“Oh look at your henna, it’s so pretty,” exclaims Jabeen, principal of Al-Iman, a private Islamic school in Raleigh.

The other girl has just fallen and scraped herself.

“Oh, my little,” Jabeen says. “How about we wash it?”

NC Legislative Building
Dave DeWitt

Lawmakers in the state House have until the end of the day to file any bills they have not yet submitted. 

Hundreds of proposals are already up for debate this session. One plan would require university professors to teach four courses per semester to keep their salaries.

In men's college basketball, the Duke Blue Devils are one game away from another National Championship. 

Duke beat Michigan State 81-61 in the Final Four Saturday. That was the highest point total the Blue Devils have allowed in the NCAA Tournament.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski praised his freshmen-heavy team's defense.

"These guys have learned at a quicker rate, though, than I would have expected from a young team. We've been outstanding on the defensive end, primarily in a man-to-man, but with some modifications."

students with laptops in classroom
Enokson / Flickr/Creative Commons

Some North Carolina lawmakers are trying to pass a bill they say will help ease the burdensome paperwork teachers face. They want to get rid of “personal education plans," documents teachers are required to fill out to help students who are at-risk of failing.  

Many teachers and advocates see them as inefficient, raising questions about how to adequately support struggling students.

monopoly set
William Warby / Flickr/Creative Commons

Yesterday, NC State announced that a group of students would try to break the Guinness world record for number people playing Monopoly "in a single venue."

"Apparently the record is only 277 people. We're going to have around 45 to 50 tables of eight players," said Mick Kulikowski in the press office.

Students Richard Phillips and Matthew Bunyi perform the song 'Stand By Me' prior to the call-to-prayer.
Megan Morr / Duke University Photography

Updated Friday 7:00 p.m.:

Hundreds of people stood on Duke University’s campus today in the shadow of a 210-foot Gothic chapel, listening to a wireless speaker that sat on the steps of the entrance.  

Had things gone differently this week the chant would’ve come from the top of the bell tower – not the bottom.

WUNC File Photo

All North Carolina high school students will be graded on a 10-point scale starting next school year, a change State Board of Education members approved Thursday. 

That means students will earn A’s if they score between 90 and 100. Currently, they’re graded on a 7-point scale.

State officials had previously decided in October to phase in the new 10-point scale with next year’s freshmen class. But Rebecca Garland, Deputy State Superintendent for the Department of Public Instruction, said that decision upset parents, students, teachers and superintendents.

iPad with a notebook next to it
Sean MacEntee / Flickr/Creative Commons

Thirteen public schools in Wake County will soon be asking students to bring their tablets, smartphones, iPads and laptops to class.

The elementary, middle and high schools are participating in a pilot program called BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, that will be rolled out over the next couple of months.

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.

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

 More public school students passed their standardized exams last year than in the previous year, in part because of changes to the grading scale that made it easier for students to be considered proficient.

The overall passing rate, across all subjects, was about 56 percent. Results are based on end-of-grade tests in reading, science and math, and end-of-course tests in three high school subjects.

A picture of moving boxes.
Nathan Olivier Photography / Creative Commons

Underclassmen are swarming the Triangle this week, and the flurry of moving boxes has already begun at some universities.

UNC Chapel Hill says nearly 4,000 of today's incoming freshmen were selected from a record number of 31,331 applicants.

Aside from the obvious enrollment data, UNC Chapel Hill keeps track of the most popular first names of the incoming class: 45 guys are named John, and 56 gals answer to Emily.

Lawmakers voted this summer to eventually eliminate teacher tenure, replacing it with temporary contracts. The State Board of Education will discuss a model contract this week.
cybrarian77 /

 As the state budget is finalized, some critics say they’re skeptical of how the teacher pay raises will pan out.

Under the budget deal, public school teachers will get an average seven percent raise. On the surface, many teachers say that sounds great, but some are worried about what it'll mean for more experienced teachers.

Currently, teachers with more than 10 years of experience receive lump-sum bonuses, which will be eliminated under the new salary plan.

Students at McDougle Elementary.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools

Since the beginning of this year, many legislators and critics have dubbed Common Core "developmentally inappropriate."

They argue that the new Math and English standards should be repealed because they are not suitable for some students.

"I know there is some age and grade inappropriateness,” said Republican Sen. Jerry Tillman at a legislative meeting earlier this year. “I’ve talked with teachers.”

Students at McDougle Elementary.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools

  Governor Pat McCrory has signed a bill designed to review and potentially replace the Common Core academic standards.

McCrory referred to the bill as a “Common Core review bill,” despite lawmakers who say that the legislation will work to replace the standards.

Students at McDougle Elementary.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools

The Senate voted 33-12 on Thursday for a bill that would likely get rid of most – if not all – of the Common Core academic standards.

“It will put these standards in North Carolina’s hands,” said Republican Senator Jerry Tillman.

The House and Senate chambers approved separate bills earlier this session that would create commissions to rework the math and language arts standards. The most recent vote was on a compromise bill that closely resembles the Senate version.

A group of retired generals is advising lawmakers not to support legislation that would get rid of the Common Core academic standards.

The group Mission Readiness: Military Leaders for Kids says the standards will help ensure the success and strength of the military by better preparing students who choose to serve. Military officers say about 23 percent of graduates looking to enroll don’t pass entrance exams in math, literacy and problem solving.

Police Training

The Wake County Public School System has proposed a new agreement with local law enforcement regarding the use of police inside the schools.

School Resource Officers are local law enforcement patrolling the county's 26 high schools and 33 middle schools, one to each school.

The school board discussed publicly for the first time Tuesday night a new "Memorandum of Understanding" -- or MOU -- that would require specialized training for officers who will work with public school children. The agreement also requires more rigorous reporting of SOR-student interactions.

Students in a Guilford County school classroom on computers.
Guilford County Schools

State officials are warning school districts about technical problems they may face with upcoming online exams. Hundreds of thousands of students may have to go back to paper and pencil for their final exams this month. 

State education officials say they can't guarantee their computer system will be able to handle the Career and Technical Education exams. The issue would affect about 350,000 students.