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Controversy and the State Board

Last week’s State Board of Education meeting took on a host of touchy topics. In the wake of superintendent concern about a state-led student survey initiative, the Board heard a history of student surveys in the state. Board members also got their first look at the process for revising the state’s standards, possibly signaling a move away from the controversy of Common Core.

Below we have selections of videos from the first day of the State Board. Stay tuned tomorrow for more updates from last week’s meeting.

Student Surveys

First up, Tom Tomberlin, director of District Human Resources, gave the Board an overview of student surveys in the state. We wrote last week about the concern that superintendents and some on the Board have about a pilot the Department of Public Instruction wants to implement.

During the question and answer portion of the presentation, Board members again expressed some of their worries.

“There is still concern out there among superintendents about the developmental appropriateness of the items,” said Board member Olivia Oxendine.

She went on to read one of the questions from the survey: “When your teacher asked how are you, how often do you feel that your teacher really wants to know your answer?”

Oxendine then asked Tomberlin: “What is that getting at?”

“I would say the authenticity of the relationship between the teacher and the student,” he said.

Not all on the Board are skeptical about the surveys. Board advisor and teacher of the year, Keana Triplett, chimed in after Oxendine expressed her concerns.

“In response to that, I’m excited about this,” she said. She went on to say later: “This is a tool for best practice. It is just that … I think we’re getting a little more complicated than we have to be.”

Triplett said that when she uses surveys in her classroom, she gets answers to questions that aren’t measured anywhere else. The surveys are the only place she can get a good picture of how students see her, she said.

Watch the video below to see Tomberlin giving a history of the surveys.

School Turnaround

The State Board also heard a short presentation from Nancy Barbour, director of District and School Transformation at DPI, as a lead-in to a presentation on an evaluation grant dealing with school turnaround. Watch the video below to see Barbour on DPI turnaround efforts.

Gary Henry of Vanderbilt University presented on the turnaround evaluation grant. Watch the video below to see Henry discuss the grant. Starting around 13:45, he also discusses student surveys, their use in school turnaround, and their effectiveness.

Standard Six

The issue of Standard Six came back up during the first day of the State Board meeting. We wrote in our overview of last month’s meeting about the proposed elimination of the standard that uses student growth to evaluate teachers.

Deputy Superintendent Rebecca Garland started off the presentation by clarifying the issue for Board members.

“In the media, it has been reported that the State Board of Education is considering eliminating growth from teacher evaluation,” she said. “That is not accurate.”

The clarification comes in response to lawmaker concern about the elimination of growth in the evaluations.

“What we are recommending to you is that growth no longer be recorded in a standalone standard,” she said. “That it will continue to be embedded across all five standards.”

She said that all teachers who have a growth “metric” will continue to have one. She said the data will be published in the aggregate at the school level.

Watch the presentation of her and Tomberlin speaking on Standard Six below. Here is the document with the policy change.

Common Core Review

Finally, on the first day of the meeting, the State Board heard an overview of the history and process for evaluating and revising the academic standards of the state. See the process of standards review here. The Academic Standards Review Commission went through a lengthy process of doing its own evaluation, which will be considered by the State Board moving forward. Read our article on the Commission’s work here.

Watch the video below for the full presentation by Tiffany Perkins, the director of K-12 standards, curriculum, and instruction.

Stay tuned tomorrow for more updates from last week’s meeting.

Alex Granados

Alex Granados is senior reporter for EducationNC.