To achieve our Vision, we must create the next generation of learning that is innovative, relevant and stimulating – and is accountable for preparing every student to collaborate and compete in the 21st century economy.
For too long, the United States has been engaged in a “race to the bottom.” Under various pressures, the bar for student achievement has been lowered to serve the interest of comfort, rather than setting expectations that encourage students’ life-long success. It is time to change the tide and start demanding the best for and of our students.
North Carolina deserves credit for increasing rigor and expecting more from every level of the education system to help students become informed, productive citizens. In spite of past excellence, we cannot rest on our laurels. Having emerged from the Great Recession with a significantly changed – and much more dynamic – state workforce and increasingly competitive global economy, we must raise our expectations to meet new demands. To assure a bright and vibrant future for all of our students, North Carolina must expect excellence and dynamism from every classroom, school building, community organization, agency and institution.
By the time they reach the end of their education in North Carolina (whether at age 18 or 58), every student should have the skills, knowledge and abilities to succeed on their chosen path – whether that is college, post-secondary job training after high school, certification or technical education after college, or moving directly into a career. Students should be well-rounded and prepared to succeed in school, work and life.
R1.1 Protect and maintain high P-20 learning standards through an adoption and ongoing review process that includes feedback from diverse stakeholders, guarantees that North Carolina’s learning standards remain among the most rigorous in the nation, and is responsive to a rapidly changing world.
R1.2 Promote student and family awareness of career options and paths by facilitating regular, meaningful, and transparent communication with counselors and other advisors, educators, higher education institutions, and employers to ensure that lack of knowledge is not an obstacle.
R1.3 Expand partnerships between schools, businesses and other sectors to help students transition from education to career. Provide opportunities for students to gain college, life and work experience in programs such as early college high schools, internships, apprenticeships, and applied baccalaureate programs.
R1.4 Improve partnerships between the business and education communities to utilize private sector expertise to inform the design and delivery of top-quality educational content at all levels, and prepare students to take advantage of workforce opportunities.
Higher expectations for all includes asking more of our educational agencies at all levels. Identifying scalable successes and replicating model programs are two concrete steps that can be taken to improve student outcomes. Other approaches include:
R2.1 Identifying efficiencies and opportunities for economies of scale, when appropriate and with respect for local control. Possibilities include administrative and operational systems that could be shared across district and geographic borders, and purchasing opportunities that would pass savings all the way to the student level.
R2.2 Ensure clear governance for education at all levels by better understanding the connection between North Carolina’s current education governance structures and our strategic priorities.
R2.3 Scale up and identify successful strategies, such as proven educational models, practices and curricula, and facilitate expansion of those strategies in appropriate educational environments through local or statewide systems.
R2.4 Improve systems for data collection, privacy and reporting to better utilize available data, reduce unnecessary or repetitive data, and make meaningful educational results transparent and easily accessible.
Highly-skilled and talented educators at all levels of our education system need information and autonomy to unleash excellence. This requires a balance between the possibility of higher quality site-based decision making and the value of equitable system solutions. At the state and local levels, North Carolina can help to create the conditions and incentives to enable every student and educator to be their best. This priority includes approaches such as:
R3.1 Providing increased flexibility for highly effective educators at multiple levels. Examples of innovations include, increasing classroom-level decision-making authority over curricula, instruction, and pacing; building-level authority over calendars, schedules, and staff; and system-level flexibility over school interventions and support and overall talent management.
R3.2 Create and maintain tools to invest in high-impact programs by approaching investments creatively and with a commitment to evidence, research, and the potential of public-private partnerships.
R3.3 Prioritize high quality, developmentally appropriate assessments for students at all levels that measure higher-order thinking skills, are utilize evolving technologies, and provide data to inform real-time instruction and accountability at the system- and state-levels.
R3.4 Maintain school and program accountability by committing to and continually upgrading rating systems for schools at all levels that provide meaningful information to all “consumers” of North Carolina’s education system.