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Charter schools

11:39 am

The Board voted today on 18 charter schools given preliminary approval by the Charter School Advisory Board.

Two school charters were denied, and four schools were sent back to the Advisory Board. Of the four sent back to the Advisory Board, two are the subject of concerns that have arisen since the last Advisory Board meeting.

Those two schools are Cape Fear Preparatory Academy and Pine Springs Preparatory Academy. The concerns were brought up yesterday during the presentation to the board and regard the company managing the schools: Newport Education Partners. The Board didn’t go into specifics.

Here are the schools voted on Thursday and the breakdown of the votes:

  • Cape Fear Preparatory Academy — New Hanover County: Sent back to the Advisory Board for further consideration
  • Capital City Charter High School (Delayed Decision) — Wake County: Sent back to the Advisory Board for further consideration
  • Cardinal Charter Academy at Knightdale — Wake County: approved by unanimous vote
  • Central Wake Charter High School — Wake County: Approved by unanimous vote
  • Charlotte Classical School — Mecklenburg County: Not approved by unanimous vote
  • FernLeaf Community Charter School — Henderson County: Approved by unanimous vote
  • Gateway Charter Academy — Guilford County: Approved by unanimous vote
  • Kannapolis Charter Academy — Cabarrus County: Approved by unanimous vote
  • Leadership Academy for Young Women — New Hanover County: Approved by unanimous vote
  • Mallard Creek STEM Academy — Mecklenburg County: Approved by unanimous vote
  • Matthews-Mint Hill Charter Academy — Mecklenburg County: Approved by unanimous vote
  • Mooresville Charter Academy — Iredell County: Approved by unanimous vote
  • Peak Charter Academy — Wake County: Approved by unanimous vote
  • Pine Springs Preparatory Academy — Wake County: Sent back to the Advisory Board for further consideration
  • Town Center Charter High School — Gaston County: Not approved with two (Board members Patricia Willoughby and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest) voting against the motion to deny the charter.
  • Union Day School — Union County: Approved by unanimous vote
  • Union Preparatory Academy at Indian Trail — Union County: Approved by unanimous vote
  • Unity Classical School — Mecklenburg County: Sent back to the Advisory Board for further consideration

The Board also voted unanimously to go ahead with the revocation of Dynamic Charter School’s charter. The Board had been working with school officials to address concerns, but those talks fell apart earlier this month when the Board became aware of additional concerns about the school. Go here to read more about the State Board’s issues with Dynamic.

“I know this has been a difficult thing for all of our board members…our hearts go out to the children, their parents, and we did hear you on multiple occasions,” said Chair Bill Cobey.  He added later, “To the extent we can wish everybody well as they go forward, we want that to be heard. I hope we’re not viewed as a bunch of heartless people.”

Alignment of standards and testing

10:40 am

The state’s assessments are well aligned with the North Carolina Standard Course of Study, according to a report by Tammy Howard, director of Accountability Operations for the Department of Public Instruction. A study, begun in 2014, examined state assessments on math, reading and science.

The results show that the majority of the assessments align well with the standards. The exception is science. The results on that portion are not yet in but will be available later in the summer.

See the presentation of the report.

Board Member Patricia Willoughby brought up the fact that the Academic Standards Review Commission is reviewing the state standards. She asked the value of the study given the fact that the standards may change.

“Having an appraisal of the product that we’re currently using is very important,” Howard said.

 

Microsoft IT Academy

10:00 am

Superintendent June Atkinson honored 18 high school students who placed in the top three spots in six different categories in the 2015 NC Microsoft Office Specialist Competition.

She also celebrated the accomplishments of North Carolina’s Microsoft IT Academy, which has been in operation for five years.

The Academy gives students access to education that allows them to earn Microsoft certifications. To date, more than 200,000 students and teachers have earned certifications through the program. 

“Over the past five years, North Carolina’s Microsoft IT Academy has saved students and teachers more than $20 million in certification costs and enabled them to build valuable technology skills required by today’s employers,” Atkinson said in a press release. “The Microsoft IT Academy is one example of how Career and Technical Education courses can enrich learning, shape career paths and change students’ lives.” 


Goodbye

9:39 am

The Board said goodbye to three of its advisors today. 

Teacher of the Year Advisor: Karyn Dickerson of Guilford County Schools

Principle of the Year: Carrie Tulbert of Mooresville Graded School District

Superintendent Advisor: Brady Johnson of Iredell-Statesville Schools


NC School of Science and Math

9:28 am

By Liam Murray

At the State Board of Education Meeting on Thursday morning, Todd Roberts, Chancellor of the North Carolina School of Science and Math, along with Vice Chancellor for Distance Education and Extended Programs Melissa Thibault, gave a presentation on broadening the state’s STEM pipeline by utilizing the resources of NCSSM.

“The reason we’re here is to think about how do we, as a state, leverage all of the state’s resources,” Roberts said. 

NCSSM is a nationally acclaimed residential science and math school for 11th and 12th graders. The program was the first of its kind, founded in the 1980s, and has been replicated 18 times internationally. The program’s goal of supporting science and technology industries is regarded by Roberts as a success, with nearly half of alumni of NCSSM continuing to live and work within the state. 

Beyond the residential program, Roberts discussed the rapidly developing virtual educational resources offered by NCSSM.

“Where you live has a big impact on what resources are available to you,” noted Roberts, emphasizing that their virtual programs, which now serve more students than the school’s 680-person residential program, are an effective way to provide STEM education in places where students may not have such opportunities. NCSSM’s interactive video conferencing courses, which served over 500 students statewide in this past school year, and online program, which served 266, earned it first prize at the Emergent Issues Forum for Innovative Spaces Competition this past year. 

These courses, which include Honors Aerospace and Engineering, Foundations of Multivariable Calculus, and AP Calculus AB, provide students course availability at no cost. Today an interactive video conferencing course, which will usually have about 25 students from three to eight schools statewide, will cost less than $5,000 to operate. NCSSM also provides supplementary STEM programs for elementary and middle schools through online interaction that reached over 1,600 students statewide this past year, and online teaching resources on YouTube which have been viewed collectively over 2.6 million times. The goal of the presentation was, as Roberts said, “to be here so folks know what it is that we do,” and to emphasize the value of what NCSSM offers to education in the state of North Carolina. 

 

Alex Granados

Alex Granados is senior reporter for EducationNC.