Many make predictions at the beginning of a new year. The following are my thoughts on what 2016 may mean for public education in North Carolina.
- The General Assembly will give teachers the largest salary increase in a decade. Rationale: This is an election year and teachers deserve a raise so that education can be more competitive with other professions.
- A new state testing pilot will be expanded so that teachers, students, and parents can receive immediate feedback after assessments test-taking time is reduced. Rationale: The preliminary results of DPI’s testing pilot show very positive feedback from teachers.
- Enrollment in university teacher preparation programs will decrease for the sixth year in a row. Rationale: Young people and adults starting a second career will not be attracted to jobs in this field until salaries have improved and teachers have the resources and support that they need to do their jobs.
- The high school graduation rate will reach another all-time high of over 86 percent while the State Board of Education will continue to maintain higher standards for meeting graduation requirements.
- Investments in early reading instruction will begin to pay off and more students will be able to read well by the third grade. Rationale: Investments in summer reading camps for 1st and 2nd graders will have a positive impact.
- Quality preschool programs will continue to be an issue even though research clearly shows that early learning programs bring great financial benefits individuals and to society as a whole.