The NC House and Senate passed a budget that includes items that had been in separate education bills.
The good news
– Teacher career status remains intact. Teachers will not be force to accept short term contracts.
– Corporate tax credits for private school vouchers did NOT become law.
– Teachers can expect a tiny raise, 1.2%.
The bad news
Each district will be required to submit a pay for performance plan, which is likely to raise the stakes on state tests even higher. The good news: districts are not required to implement the plans in 2013-14.
The budget requires that each school receive a grade of A to F, based solely on students’ test score performance. It also requires that each grade be widely publicized. The grades will not reflect student growth. Rather than improving education in our state, as its sponsors claim, this short-sighted decision is likely to have the opposite effect.
The K-8 school “grades” are based only on three End of Grade (EOG) subjects: third through eighth grade math and reading, and fifth through eighth grade science scores. History suggests that the subsequent pressure to improve school grades is likely to lead to unintended negative consequences for students.
We learned from the now repudiated federal No Child Left Behind legislation that high-stakes tests in selected subjects narrow the curriculum. Many subjects essential to a well-rounded education, among them social studies, history, art, music, foreign language and technology, don’t count towards a school’s “grade” and are likely to be given short shrift. Equally damaging for students, the fastest way for a school to improve its “grade” will to focus its efforts at raising the performance of children just at or below proficient. The needs of gifted students can be ignored, as they will pass the test anyway. Likewise, the educational needs of very low performing students can be marginalized if they are deemed unlikely to pass the test in any given year.