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Perspective | Innovation Lab focuses on raising expectations for student success

Over 125 educators, policymakers, researchers, advocates, and business leaders attended BEST NC’s 2019 Education Innovation Lab on September 25th. The 2019 Innovation Lab focused on Raising Expectations for Student Success.

BEST NC understands that high expectations for students – both from educators and from students themselves – are critical to finding success in academics and in life.

We were also troubled by recent research from The Fordham Institute and TNTP that finds that while students’ grades are rising, performance on standardized tests has plateaued and students in high-poverty schools often lack access to grade-level classroom material. As a result, we set out to elevate the issue of high expectations for education stakeholders in North Carolina and spent the day highlighting policies, practices, and programs that have successfully raised expectations for students across our state.

Framing the day

Overview video: Raising expectations for student success

Welcome remarks and keynote by Tabari Wallace

Policymaker perspectives

Lt. Governor Dan Forest


Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest discussed his work on broadband, computer science, and economics and personal finance as examples of ways his office has endeavored to ensure all students have the opportunity to experience high expectations.

Senator Jay Chaudhuri


Senator Jay Chaudhuri discussed his work on class size and access to advanced math as achievements in education policy. He also shared his goal of increasing access to high-quality pre-K for all North Carolina children.

Innovation Stations

During the Lab, attendees had the opportunity to hear from presenters on three topics: Setting High Expectations for All StudentsStudent Centered Design for High Expectations, and Connecting Community for High Expectations. Watch overview trailers for each of the topics below.

Topic A: Setting High Expectations for All Students

Topic B: Student-Centered Design for High Expectations

Topic C: Connecting Community for High Expectations

Equity Walk with James E. Ford


The “E(race)ing Inequities: The State of Racial Equity in North Carolina Public Schools” report endeavors to provide comprehensive analysis of the condition of racial equity in North Carolina K-12 public schools. It does so through the examination of the relationship between race and over 30 indicators of educational access and outcomes using North Carolina student-level data from the 2016-2017 school year. At the 2019 Innovation Lab, participants explored data from this report during a networking reception and gallery walk.

Reach NC Voices


Reach NC Voices is a statewide project designed to survey North Carolinians in real time to understand how they feel about the broad array of issues facing our students, parents, educators, and communities. This technology was used during the 2019 Innovation Lab to survey attendants on a range of subjects focused on high expectations.


BEST NC (Business for Education Success and Transformation in NC) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan coalition of business leaders committed to improving North Carolina’s education system. We do this by convening a broad constituency; encouraging collaboration around a shared, bold vision for education; and advocating for policies, research, programs, and awareness that will significantly improve education in North Carolina.